$700/day nightly comfort for SL team to UN- paper

[TamilNet, Sunday, 19 September 2004, 11:55 GMT]
"Sri Lanka delegation to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) sessions is billed to stay at the most famous five-star luxury hotel in the city - the Waldorf Astoria," in New York costing Sri Lankan tax payers room rates ranging from $370 to $700, Sunday Times, a weekly broadsheet in Colombo reported in its Sunday edition.

The cost does not include meals or telephone bills the paper noted.

"Last UN delegation led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in September last year, which included some hand-picked journalists, left a staggering US $ 26,000 phone bill at the UN Plaza Hotel," the paper warned of other expected expenses to be borne by the Sri Lankan tax payer.

Ms.Kumaratunge switched her traditional lodging, the Harley Hotel in the UN neighbourhood, which provides similar rooms for visiting heads of state at nearly half the price, the paper said.

Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga will also host a banquet from the hotel's ballroom, the largest elegant ballroom in New York City and this reception is expected to cost nearly US$ 15,000.

"President Kumaratunga's entourage includes her brother, Tourism and Investment Promotion Minister Anura Bandaranaike, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, Peace Secretariat Chief Jayantha Dhanapala, two Deputy Ministers, more than a half a dozen officials and at least four security officers. A five-member delegation solely from state run media has also been included," the report said.

"President Kumaratunga is scheduled to speak on the first day of the new UNGA sessions, a long-standing practice afforded to Sri Lanka. She speaks immediately after US President George Bush on Tuesday, but what seems like an honour is often an anti-climax for the speech of the US President always takes the limelight and grabs the world's press and electronic media headlines for the day," the report added.


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