Connect with us


Over Rs 3.3 bn wasted: BoI unions urge govt. to act on COPE revelations



COPE session in progress (pic courtesy Parliament)

SLPP, SJB and UNP workers unite

The government cannot turn a blind eye to the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) disclosure of waste, corruption and irregularities at Sri Lanka’s premier investment agency, trade union sources say.

The Communication Department of Parliament Thursday afternoon issued a damning report on the Board of Investment (BoI) following a meeting the parliamentary watchdog committee had with the BOI’s top management headed by its Chairman Sanjaya Mohottala on the same day.

The COPE underscored the urgent need to take remedial measures, a senior spokesperson for the Progressive Workers’ Union Commercial and Industrial Services told The Island yesterday (12).

In spite of making representations to the government at the highest level, the union affiliated to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) couldn’t prompt immediate intervention, the union official said.

According to him, altogether six trade unions including those affiliated to the SLPP, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the United National Party (UNP) have pledged their support at a meeting held on Sept 19.

The BoI comes under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa whereas State Minister D.V. Chanaka is responsible for site development.

Trade Unions representing the BoI recently discussed ways and means to address the embarrassing profligacy at the state agency, relating to various projects, sources said. The COPE exposure couldn’t have come at a better time, they said.

The trade union collective called for urgent intervention pointing out that the all-party group chaired by Prof. Charitha Herath, also of the SLPP questioned the rationale in the BOI decisions to spend over Rs 3 bn on two Export Processing Zones (EPZs) at Milleniya and Bingiriya, under controversial circumstances.

COPE should act on its findings, the trade unions said, urging political parties represented in the watchdog committee to push for remedial measures, the trade union collective said. However, they expressed concern over the government ignoring the important Parliamentary Committee’s findings.

Trade unions said that the report issued by the Communications Department of the Parliament hadn’t dealt with some crucial matters, though from time to time they took up contentious issues with the government. Referring to the recent recruitment of 29 management level persons at a much higher salary scale at a monthly cost of Rs 20 mn and allocation of about Rs. 76 mn to refurbish available offices at the World Trade Centre for the newcomers’ use, trade unions alleged even the basic infrastructure development and repairs had been neglected.

The trade unions also questioned the outsourcing of work currently undertaken by the BoI to outsiders at a very heavy cost to the state enterprise. As part of their overall strategy, the unions have launched a campaign to educate the BoI workers of the developments and what they alleged were attempts to enter into agreements with private organisations for the benefit of the latter.

Trade unions pointed out that unlike many other state enterprises, the BoI hadn’t asked for Treasury assistance as it was financially stable. But, relentless and reckless spending could cause a catastrophe, trade unions said, calling for urgent action.

They also alleged manipulation of the cabinet of ministers by those managing the BoI now.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Forex crisis will lead to power cuts, warns Ranil



Udaya pooh-poohs warning

By Saman indrajith

UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that the country would face power cuts soon if the government did not resolve the foreign exchange crisis urgently.

Participating in the third reading debate on Budget 2022, the UNP leader said the forex issue could result in Sri Lanka running out of money to import fuel.

Wickremesinghe called on the government to make a statement on the current situation.

The UNP leader pointed out that Sri Lanka had only Rs. 1.5 billion in foreign reserves, out of which Rs. 300 million were gold reserves, which meant only Rs. 1.2 billion was the liquid amount in foreign reserves.

The former PM said the low foreign reserves could lead to the country facing power issues in the future as there would be no funds left for fuel imports. However, the Minister of Power, Udaya Gammanpila, assured that Sri Lanka had enough fuel stocks.

The Minister said it was reasonable for people to assume that there would be power cuts in the future due to the foreign exchange crisis.

Reiterating that Sri Lanka had necessary fuel stocks, Minister Gammanpila said the fuel in hand was sufficient for the next 40 days.

Although the Sapugaskanda Oil refinery had been closed for 50 days, measures would be taken to resume operations at an early date, the Minister added, assuring that the foreign exchange crisis would not result in power cuts.

Continue Reading


State Minister Ranasinghe assures farmers using organic fertiliser compensation in event of losses



Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat yesterday

Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday assured that the government would compensate any paddy farmer who suffered losses due to adopting organic fertiliser.

Speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat, the Minister said that even if the government had not proposed to allocate funds in the Budget proposals for possible losses to paddy farmers using organic fertiliser, funds would be obtained from a supplementary estimate for the purpose.

Ranasinghe said that it was wrong to state that the government shifted from chemical to organic fertiliser abruptly. The government had promised to do so in its election manifesto and people had approved it by giving a two-third majority of votes for that. The UNP too had planned to adopt organic fertilisers in place of chemical fertilisers some 30 years back.

The State Minister said that during the past 30 years all the governments had spent billions of rupees to increase awareness of organic fertilisers among officials and the general public. In addition, there had been numerous projects introduced with the assistance of the World Bank to promote organic cultivation in the country.

Minister Ranasinghe said that there were chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides and there was information that some traders sell them at exorbitant prices. The government would get the Consumer Affairs Authority and police to implement the law against the black marketers.

He said that some farmers had raised concern that nano-nitrogen fertiliser would be washed away owing to the heavy rains, but the government would supply that fertiliser again as it was promised by State Minister of Organic Fertilizer Sashindra Rajapaksa.

The meeting was attended by ministry officials and representatives of the farmers’ associations in the Polonnaruwa District.

Continue Reading


Arjuna quits UNP



World Cup winning captain and former minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday quit the UNP over its failure to get its act together

Ranatunga has communicated his decision to leave the UNP to the Leader, Secretary, Deputy Leader, and the Assistant Leader of the UNP.

Ranatunga said, in a letter to the UNP leadership, that he decided to join the United National Front ahead of the 2015 presidential election to make a change for the common good.

He has said as the first step towards that objective he contested the 2015 general election and secured the highest number of votes from the Gampaha District.

Ranatunga said that when many left the party in 2020, he remained with the UNP in order to protect it.

He said in 2020 the UNP suffered a massive loss, “and what is required is to prepare a programme to overcome the present and future challenges”.

“However, as there seems to be no such preparation there appears to be no purpose in remaining with the party”, Ranatunga said.

Continue Reading