Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that a luxury cubicle worth USD 4 mn fixed onto aircraft for his use had never been acquired by Sri Lanka.
The former President was responding to a statement issued by Gampaha District UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake.
The following is the full text of statement issued by the former President’s office: "Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake said at a press conference yesterday that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had ordered a luxury cubicle worth four million US dollars to be fixed onto aircraft used by him and that because of the agreement that has been signed, President Sirisena is unable to reverse the order. Mr Ramanayake further stated that it was because of such abuse of power that former President Rajapaksa has had to face various commissions of inquiry today.
During the last presidential election campaign, President Rajapaksa was falsely accused of having ordered a private plane for himself. Now they say fairly truthfully, that this was only a kit to convert a part of an ordinary airliner into a luxury cubicle. These are VIP conversion kits which can be installed after removing several seats in commercial airliners and are supplied free as a complimentary accessory when new commercial passenger planes are ordered. Airbus Industries mentions a value for this conversion kit only to give the customer an idea of the value of the complimentary kit. The customer can’t ask for the money instead of the complimentary accessory.
Though, Mr Ramanayake said in his press conference that the President of the USA and the Sultan of Brunei also used similar units on their plane that is not true. The American President travels in an official plane and the Sultan of Brunei has many private planes. They don’t travel on commercial airlines fitted with conversion kits.
It is not correct to say that the government cannot reverse the order for this VIP kit. Any customer can turn down the offer of a complimentary accessory if he does not need it. It seems to be that the present leaders now wish to avail themselves of the comfort of this VIP kit for their foreign travels and are trying to make excuses for accepting it by saying that the agreement prevented them from turning it down. All those who value yahapalanaya principles should ensure that the government flatly refuses to accept this complimentary VIP conversion kit and even if it is sent to Sri Lanka with the new planes, it should be returned to Airbus Industries forthwith."