The travel expenses of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa for his visit to Uganda was paid by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on a directive by Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Ministry's Overseas Administration Divison Director General confirmed today.
Mr.Rajapaksa was invited for the inauguration ceremony of the Ugandan President Yoweni Musaveni who was sworn in for his fifth term as President.
Director General A.L. Ratnapala, told Daily Mirror that the decision to pay the travel expenses was taken by Minister Samaraweera on a request made by Mr. Rajapaksa about the possibility of his travel expenses being paid by the ministry.
Some amount between Rs.400, 000 and Rs. 500,000 was paid for the airline tickets and Mr. Ratnapala said he had authorized the transaction to be invoiced.
He said the Foreign Ministry agreed to pay only Mr.Rajapaksa’s travel expenses and not of those who accompanied him.
"The transaction was carried out in line with normal ministerial procedure. We agreed to pay for his tickets and not for accommodation or any other facilities," Mr. Ratnapala said adding that Ugandan Government would meet the other expenses because this visit was undertaken on an invitation of that government.
However, it was not clear as to the basis on which the Foreign Ministry agreed to pay for the air tickets of a former president for a private visit abroad.
Several attempts to contact Deputy Foreign Minister Harsha De Silva, to inquire about this matter had failed. (Piyumi Fonseka)