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Controversial awarding of contract to blacklisted Indian company to print  foolproof stickers on liquor bottles, cans

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CA issues notice to the Finance Minister, Treasury Secretary, Excise Commissioner General…..

By A.J.A. Abeynayake

The Court of Appeal, after considering a petition seeking a writ of certiorari quashing the tender awarded by the Excise Department to the Madras Security Printers of India to print foolproof stickers on liquor bottles and cans, issued notice on respondents on Wednesday.

Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance S.R. Attygalle, Commissioner General of Excise M.J. Gunasiri, Madras Security Printers and Attorney General have been named as respondents.

The petitioner, Rathu Bambarendage Lasantha Kumara, states in his petition that the Excise Department has awarded the tender to the Madras Security Printers (MSP) without conducting proper technical evaluation OR following tender procedures.

The petitioner has said the introduction of the sticker with a code on bottles and cans cost only 15 cents as per practice adopted in many other countries but the Excise Department has decided to spend about two rupees per bottle or can.

The petitioner states that Matara District SJB MP Buddhika Pathirana raised the issue in Parliament on 20 April and the MP pointed out the questionable practice adopted by the Excise Department to grant the contract to MSP, a blacklisted company in India as well as in several other countries. MP Pathirana categorically pointed out that the State would incur a one-billion-rupee loss due to the deal.

The petitioner says the corrupt practice has caused a great foreign exchange loss to the government of Sri Lanka which is already in a grave state of affairs in terms of country’s foreign reserves.

The petitioner also states that the officials of the Excise Department continuously engaged in corrupt practices by not collecting dues from the liquor industry either by not implementing proper and transparent procedure or by giving contracts to corrupt dealers.

The MSP on many occasions “while taking contracts to supply security printing stickers of manufacturers has illegally collected exorbitant amounts from such manufacturers and caused enormous losses to the respective States,” and “is a notorious company world widely engaged in such corrupt practices,” states the petitioner.

The granting of contract to supply of the foolproof security stickers and/or Digital Image Printing on liquor products in terms of Excise Notification under the Excise Ordinance to MSP is illegal, unlawful, unreasonable, ultra vires and shall be quashed and/or cancelled, says the petitioner.

After considering the facts submitted by the petitioner, the court issued notice on respondents.

Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe PC, Attorneys-at-law Dasun Nagasena, Rakhita Rajapakshe, Madhwa Jayawardene and Jayamudhita Jayasuriya appeared for the petitioner.

Senior State Counsel, Suranga Wimalasena appeared for respondents Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa and the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance S.R. Attygalle.

Gamini Maparana PC and Naveen Marapana PC appeared for respondent MSP.



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Two-year reconciliation project spurns Lord Naseby’s disclosure

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EU, Germany funded scheme costs Rs. 8 mn

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Peace Council (NPC) says war-related matters hadn’t been discussed at the nearly two-year-long reconciliation project that brought together students from Eastern, Jaffna, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa Universities.

More than 160 students have participated in the project that culminated with a conference on the theme of ‘Plural Sri Lanka: Paths to reconciliation.’ Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris delivered the closing address and responded to questions from the audience.

Pointing out that post-war reconciliation efforts had been badly hampered by allegations that the Sri Lankan military killed over 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front, The Island sought clarification as regards measures taken by the NPC to improve relations among the communities, and the following questions were raised:

The Island:

During your two-year long project did participants discuss specific war crimes allegations and disclosure made in the House of Lords in Oct 2017 that contradicted unsubstantiated accusations pertaining to 40,000 civilian deaths.

Executive Director NPC Dr. Jehan Perera:

“No, we did not discuss these war-related matters. The project was titled “Creative Youth Engagement for Pluralism” and it focused on the nature of Sri Lanka as a plural society and the value framework that should guide it.  The research papers highlighted the diversity within Sri Lankan society that goes beyond ethnicity and religion.  They included topics such as “Attitudes of Society on Education and Transsexuality: A Comparative Study on the Ideologies of a Community with Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Education,” and “Pluralism and University Subculture: An Ethnological Study on Young Behavior towards Social Cohesion,” and “An Investigative Study of the Challenges Posed by the Changes in the Aboriginal Society.”

The Island:

What is the total cost of the project?

The NPC

: Rs 8 million was spent to train and mentor the writers of the 30 research publications in four universities, translate, review and publish their findings in book form and for the conference which brought the students to Colombo.

Question 3:

What is the GoSL’s contribution?

The NPC:

There was no direct financial support by the government. Four state universities supported through their faculty members and students.

The Island: What is the NPC’s stand on accountability resolution and announcement made in Geneva that the Sri Lankan military would be subjected to a fresh inquiry?

The NPC:

In order to get out of these allegations, there is a need for a credible and independent investigation. Our preference is for a national mechanism that is acceptable to all sides.  Accountability will need to be a part of the reconciliation process.  NPC favours the restorative justice approach which focuses on ensuring justice to victims. This includes an acknowledgement of wrongs done and reparations and institutional reform to ensure that there is non-recurrence. 

 The Island: Are you also engaged in post-war reconciliation projects funded by Norway?

The NPC:

NPC hasn’t obtained funds from Norway for the past five years.

The recently concluded project has been funded by a project called Strengthening Reconciliation Process here jointly funded by the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by Deutsche Gesellsschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the British Council in partnership with the Sri Lankan Government.

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Speaker promises to appoint bi-partisan committee to look into incidents in Parliament

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced in Parliament yesterday (06) that a committee consisting of senior members from the Government and Opposition would be appointed within the week to look into the incidents that took place in Parliament last Friday and Saturday and submit a report.

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High Court Trial-at-Bar orders release of several accused from 11 charges in CB bond auction case

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By AJA Abeynayake

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday ordered the release of several accused, including former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke and former Central Bank former Governor Arjuna Mahendra, from 11 charges out of 22 in connection with the Central Bank bond auction held on 31 March, 2016.

Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar held that public property charges against the accused could not be maintained. Indictments had been filed against Perpetual Treasuries Private Ltd (PTL), former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke, CBSL former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) beneficiary owner Arjun Aloysius, PTL Chief dealer Kasun Palisena, Chairman of PTL Jeffrey Joseph Aloysius, Chitta Ranjan Hulugalle, Muthuraja Surendran, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa and Badugoda Hewa Indika Saman Kumara in connection with bond auction held on March 31, 2016.

The case against seventh accused Ranjan Hulugalle was dismissed on preliminary objections raised.

President’s Counsel Anil Silva, Counsel Asela Serasinghe, Hafeel Farisz, Sahan Kulatunga and Vishwaka Peiris appeared for the seventh accused.

The Attorney General’s stance regarding the future cause of action to be informed on 26 Jan. 2022.

The Attorney General had alleged that the PTL had been using the Central Bank’s important undisclosed information to alter the final outcome of the Treasury bond auction and it had a huge impact on the overall national economy as a result of the subtle; the systematic conduct of the offences related to the fraud and had caused injustice to other primary sellers in the bond market, and the PTL had acted cunningly and made a huge profit and conspired to cause a huge loss to the government.

The case was postponed until 26 Jan. 2022.

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