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Did ‘Colossus’ factory owned by suicide bomber benefit?

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Direct link between Colossus and largest spice exporter Ishana

Rs 63,708 mn worth of copper imports during yahapalana govt.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP National List MP Mohammed Muzammil yesterday (27) asked whether Colossus Copper Factory, Wellampitiya, under investigation for alleged funding of 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, had benefited from substantial copper imports during the 2015-2019 period, amounting to Rs. 63,708 mn.

Colossus owner Imsath carried out suicide attack on the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo. Lawmaker Muzammil of the National Freedom Front, a constituent of the SLPP, told The Island that the factory had also profited from large consignments of copper, provided by the previous government at concessionary rates without following proper tender procedures.

Muzammil pointed out that former Police Headquarters spokesman SSP Jaliya Senaratne was on record having accused the Wellampitiya factory of having funded suicide bombers.

Responding to another query, MP Muzammil said that having examined available information he had sought an explanation as regards copper imports from Money, Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal. 

State Minister Cabraal, responding to an oral question in Parliament yesterday (27) said that during the 2015-2019 period Sri Lanka had imported copper to the tune of Rs 63,708 mn.

The MP asked for a thorough investigation into what he called a conspiracy.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) probing Easter Sunday attacks has been informed how Shantha Bandara, the then Public Relations Director of former President Maithripala Sirisena, instructed the Industrial Development Board (IDB) to provide 500 tonnes of copper to Colossus. Shantha Bandara now represents the SLPP parliamentary group. Devika Liyanage, a Senior Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, also directed the IDB to issue Colossus 1000 kilos of brass. IDB comes under the purview of the Trade and Commerce Ministry.

Muzamimil said that those who allowed the Colossus operation should be held accountable and made answerable to the public. He said that throughout the operation of Colossus since its inception in 2012, All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader and Vanni District lawmaker Rishad Bathiudeen had served and the Minister of Commerce.

Muzammil said that the IDB should be able to provide a list of requests made on behalf of Colossus which employed foreign workers at the time of the Easter Sunday carnage.

Mohammad Yusuf  Ibrahim, the proprietor of Ishana Exports Pvt Limited, the parent company of Colossus is currently held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The police arrested Ibrahim within hours after the blasts for aiding and abetting his sons, Colossus owner Imsath and his brother Ilham, who carried out double suicide attacks on Shangri-La Hotel along with ring leader Zahran Hashim.

Ishana Exports, recognised as the largest spice exporter by the government, came into being in 1986.

Ibrahim was on the JVP National List at the 2015 general election.

Shangri-La bomber’s wife Fathima Jiffry triggered a blast to avoid being arrested after the police surrounded Ibrahim’s luxury residence at Dematagoda.

MP Muzammil said that even over one and half years after blasts killed 270 people, some of those who masterminded the project were still at large.

Responding to another query, Muzammil said that the primary focus of the ongoing investigation was the lapses on the part of the political and security apparatus.

Archbishop of Colombo Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has said all those who planned the operation should be brought to justice.



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CEBEU guns for ex-Chairman Ferdinando

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by Ifham Nizam

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) Friday  said that they are in the process of collecting evidence against former Ceylon Electricity Board Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando over the recent statement he made on a proposed power project with India.

A senior engineer said that there is a high possibility that the seasoned civil servant dragged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to disrepute because he didn’t see eye to eye with the President.

Eng. Isuru Kasthuriratne, a committee member of the CEBEU and Project Engineer – Mannar Wind Power Project of the Board said they would never allow former chairman to get away easily.

“There are always controversies about him. We would not let this case go. We are in touch with all bodies,” he said.

Kasthuriratne said that very relevant documents were authored and authorized by the former chairman and “he cannot simply say he is not aware of this and that.”

Ferdinando on June 11, tendered his resignation following the controversy he sparked over the planned 500 MW unsolicited wind power project here by India’s Adani group.

“The Adani group at first proposed to sell power to the CEB at 6.50 US cents per unit,” CEBEU President Anil Ranjith told journalists recently.

Despite numerous attempts, the former CEB chairman was not available for comment.

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Dilshan Wirasekara, new CSE Chairman

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The Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) announced the appointment of Dilshan Wirasekara as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the CSE with effect from Friday (24).

Wirasekara has served on the Board of the CSE since 21st November 2017 and succeeds Dumith Fernando, who steps down as the Chairman after completing his two-year tenure.

Wirasekara is the Director/Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading investment banking firms, First Capital Holdings PLC, offering a diverse range of financial services in Government Securities, Corporate Finance and Advisory, Asset Management and Stock Brokering, which he has been part of since 2013.

He currently is the chairman of the Investment Subcommittee of the CSE and also serves on the Risk and Audit Committee of the CSE as well as the CSE/SEC joint committees on Digitalization and the Central Counter Party System (CCP).

An Investment banker by profession with a career spanning over 26 years, comprising diversified expertise in financial services, including banking, treasury and investment management, capital market strategy, and corporate finance advisory services.

Wirasekara specializes in Asset and Liability Risk Management, having secured the accolade of leading and representing two Sri Lankan companies in winning the International Bank Asset and Liability competition organized annually by the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO), German Investment Corporation (DEG), and Proparco – a subsidiary of the Agence Française de Development (AFD).

Wirasekara is an alumnus of INSEAD, having completed his Executive Professional Education at INSEAD Business School in Fontainebleau, France. He is also an alumnus of AOTS, Tokyo, Japan.

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NCE on Govt’s focus on directing public servants to private sector employment

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National Chamber of Exporters has given the a proposal to the Prime Minister and copied it to the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government on providing employment opportunities to government servants in the private sector companies for a specified period.

The Chamber said in a release: Through Media sources we got to know that The Ministry of Public Administration has appointed a committee to look into the possibility of granting five years of leave to government employees to work in the private sector.

Its states that a seven-member committee has been appointed for this purpose and that the said committee is to submit its report to the Cabinet of Ministers within two weeks.

Sri Lankan exporters are proposing to absorb public sector employees for employment in the sector to relieve the burden of wages and related costs on the Government.

The Export Sector has been able to sustain business and has also reached the pre pandemic level of an average of USD.01 billion export revenue during the period January to April 2022. Before the dawn of the pandemic, exporters were facing difficulties with lack of skilled workers. However, during the pandemic, many exporters were compelled to downsize operations and lay off employees which has created a vacuum in crucial areas of operations.

In current scenario, considering the financial burden and the reportedly excessive workforce attached to the public sector, NCE member exporters are proposing following options in reaching a win-win agreement for both government and the export sector. It is to be noted that labour requirements of exporters vary according to the relevant industry, yet in general all categories could be considered.

1. Any government employee in the permanent carder is eligible to apply for employment in the export sector, excluding from following institutions as they are involved in law enforcement in the country which may lead to conflict of interests.

a) Department of Police

b) Department of Inland Revenue

c) Department of Customs

d) Department of Excise

 2.Government to grant unpaid leave up to a maximum of 59 months.

 3.Employer will offer a “Temporary Labour Contract “to such selected individuals which include: –

 a) Period of contract for 59 months (because on completion of the 60th month, the employee will be eligible for Gratuity.)

b) Their employment will be in accordance with the laws and statutes under which the respective private sector company’s  employees of similar cadre is employed.

c) Leave entitlement as per employer’s policy on leave

d) Employment contract can be terminated with either party giving 30 days’ written notice.

e) In case of maternity leave, a number of stipulated days will be available as unpaid leave.

f)  At the end of 59 months, the government to absorb such individuals back to the public sector employment as per pertinent rules and regulations.

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