101 MPs default Rs 69 million in housing rent at Viyathpura Scheme
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s 101 parliamentarians who received housing units from the Viyathpura government housing complex in Pannipitiya have defaulted their housing rents causing massive loss of millions of rupees to the national housing development authority.
According to Cabinet Decision No. 22/0970/502/019 dated 16 July 2022, 101 housing units had been given on an annual rent of Rs.69 million to the Members of Parliament from the housing project of 500 houses located in Weeramawata, Pannipitiya on an one year rental basis.
But the national housing development authority had not received the rent for these housing units even as at July 2023 Auditor General’s latest report revealed.
A sum of Rs.10 million had to be received by the authority for the maintenance costs to be paid by each house owner and the electricity, gas and water charges to be paid for the housing units by August 2023, it added.
Former President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had advised the Urban Development Authority (UDA) to take over the Madiwela land for development purposes and instead allocate housing units to parliamentarians at housing schemes owned by the UDA that is closest to the parliament.
Moreover, the document states that the closest land to the parliament after the Madiwela housing complex is the Viyathpura housing complex and the value of these housing units has been estimated at a staggering Rs. 1795 million in 2022.
The Madiwela housing complex, owned by the parliament, has 120 housing units and is situated in the suburbs of Sri Jayawardenapura. This housing complex facilitates usage for outstation parliamentarians.
Sri Lanka’s housing minister Prasanna Ranatunga told Parliament that 76 MPs who lost their houses and property to arson following the unrest that broke out since May have been given temporary housing at the Viyathpura Housing Scheme in Kalalgoda.
He noted that these houses were given for a period of one year, with a monthly rental charged from the occupant MP.
“Not a single MP was given a house free of charge,” he told the house in response to a claim made by an opposition lawmaker.
The Minister said the complex comprises 106 houses for MPs, and 76 of them have been given on rent to MPs, and if any other MP has a requirement a vacant house can be provided on rent.
He also said that these houses can be purchased by MPs as well to be used as their permanent residences.
The document says that those Members of Parliament (MPs) whose houses were burnt down during the May 9 attacks were given priority at this housing scheme
The Urban Development Authority says it has also earned US$ 500,000 by selling eleven middle-class housing units at the Viyathpura Scheme under the government’s programme to sell the UDA-built apartments for foreign currency to Sri Lankan migrant workers.
The UDA added that Sri Lankans living in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Fiji have purchased housing units.