Sri Lanka suspends lavish perks of former president

Mar. 21 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has ordered the withdrawal of extra cars and staff serving former president Chandrika Kumaratunga after a complaint that her retirement benefits are excessive, a court official said. Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva made the order Monday after launching an investigation into a complaint by three lawyers that the former president was too much of a burden on taxpayers, the official said.

He said a three-judge bench ordered the immediate suspension of cars, staff and the gift of a prime plot of land to Kumaratunga pending the completion of the hearing.

The ex-president is said to have retained a staff of over 200 and more than 30 vehicles after she stepped down in November at the end of the maximum two terms allowed under the constitution.

Last month, Kumaratunga said she had returned the gift of the prime site, which is near parliament.

A statement from her office at the time said the land was granted to her following her decision to forgo several facilities to which she was entitled under the constitution.

Kumaratunga had said no to a pension, a state bungalow and free utilities such as water and electricity, it said.