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Champika claims  highest tower in South Asia a white elephant

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MP Patali Champika Ranawaka says the Colombo Lotus Tower would require earning a daily-revenue of US$ 41,000 for the next five years in order to cover the loans obtained for its construction.

At a meeting with the executive members of the Sri Lanka Parliamentary Journalists’ Association recently, MP Ranawaka said that a total of US$ 105 million was spent on the tower and a further US$ 56 million is required to settle the loan in the next five years.

” It’s a waste for a country like ours. We need to talk separately about the corruption that took place in this,” the MP said.

The proposal to construct the Colombo Lotus Tower estimated the total cost of the project at Rs 9.3 billion at the time, while it did not include land.

There didn’t appear to be a “proper assessment” of the income that could be generated once the facility was completed as well.

The required “proper” feasibility study was never conducted and a special Government audit in 2019 found only financial feasibility carried out by the Project Consultancy Unit (PCU) for free.

The interest on the China EXIM Bank’s loan was four percent plus prevailing LIBOR, but the financial feasibility calculated borrowing cost at 3.5 percent, causing a significant understatement of over Rs. 500 million.

The report hadn’t considered loan interest for the period of disbursement; neglected to include management and commitment fees for unutilized loan amounts; understated insurance costs by over Rs. 680 million; and overstated the present value of budgeted income by more than Rs 2 billion.

The Colombo Lotus Tower remains on the list of Sri Lanka’s failed taxpayer-funded and multibillion rupee vanity projects that have direct political backing.

The Lotus Tower at present is owned by the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) but managed by the Lotus Tower Management Company (Pvt) Ltd (LTMC) under the Treasury, with an independent Board of Directors.

The Treasury has now allocated Rs 500 million to Lotus Tower Management Company (Pvt) Ltd (LTMC).

The Colombo Lotus Tower has been rebranded as the epicenter of technology and entertainment with expected income chiefly from rent.



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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