Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne said in Parliament that he was the politician who took the most number of helicopter rides in recent times to attend meetings all over the country despite his doctors not approving of such air travels due to ill health.
Mr. Jayaratne said that he is sometimes compelled to attend six or seven meetings a day in different parts of the country.
“One meeting is in the north and another in the south. I am the minister in charge of religious affairs. I am supposed to attend the meetings of various places of religious worship. I cannot reach all these places in a day by road. Therefore, I use helicopters. I will continue to do it,” he said.
The Prime Minister was responding to UNP MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam who asked about those entitled to use helicopters belonging to the Airforce. The government said that Rs.200 million is incurred by the Airforce to give helicopter rides to various persons.
Ministers, deputy ministers, MPs, Mahanayake Theras and the President and the Prime Minister are among those entitled to use helicopters of the Airforce. Besides, anyone approved by the Defence Ministry can also use such facilities.
Mr. Kariyawasam, however, argued that a UNP member who crossed over to the government and became a minister, uses helicopters even to attend to matters of less importance. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)