9:55 AM

Billions for SAARC

While the masses tighten their belts, staggering in the face of the skyrocketing cost of living, the forthcoming SAARC summit is set to cost Sri Lanka at least a whopping Rs. 3 billion, The Nation learns.According to the initial estimates drawn up on Friday, the summit, which was shifted from Kandy to Colombo due to security and infrastructure related issues, will cost the country a staggering Rs. 2,889,180, 332.The Rs. 2.8 billion estimate includes infrastructure development, accommodation, transport and decorations.

The government will seek to pass the Rs. 2.8 billion as a supplementary budget at the next Parliamentary session.Sources, however, stressed that the final cost is usually much higher than the initial estimate, due to which there was a huge possibility that the total cost of the summit would surpass the Rs. 3 billion mark. Meanwhile, News-Lanka learns that apart from purchasing a large number of luxury vehicles for the use of VVIPs, the government is also spending millions to lease out vehicles for the use of other delegates at the summit. Sri Lanka is expecting around 800 to 900 delegates at the summit, with more than 150 foreign journalists also expected to cover the two-day event.