Home for the SLFEA at a 'price'
Minister Keheliya Rambukwella
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
Speculation is rife as to why the Sri Lanka
Foreign Employment Agency (SLFEA), a
subsidiary of the Sri Lanka Foreign
Employment Bureau (SLFEB) is keen to
purchase a new building as its office
premises without following the stipulation
of calling for tenders and ready to purchase
it at an exorbitant price of Rs. 62 million
when the government valuation stands only at
Rs. 42.5 million.
The Sunday Leader reliably learns that the
groundwork has already been prepared for
the said purchase, and top sources from the
Ministry of Foreign Employment said that the
SLFEA has now been requested to justify the
reason for wanting to purchase a building at
a higher value which is Rs.20 million more
than the government valuation.
It is true that the SLFEA, a subsidiary of
the SLFEB which is also the sole shareholder
of the Agency has required and been looking
for a suitable premises for a while. It is
currently housed at a rented out premises at
100, Nawala Road, Narahenpita and pays a
monthly rent of Rs. 140,000.
Ministry sources confirmed to The Sunday
Leader that Minister of Foreign Employment
Promotion and Welfare, Keheliya Rambukwella
too has instructed the officials to look for
suitable premises - but is apparently
turning a blind eye to what is going on.
But now there is a catch - with the
non-calling of tenders and the differences
in the property valuation - so different are
they that the private valuation is Rs. 20
million more than he government valuation,
and the SLFEA is keen to settle on the
It is reliably learned that a former
secretary of the ministry, Mrs. R.V.
Nanayakkara has been instructed by the
authorities to take the initiative in
checking out suitable premises. She is a
retired public servant now employed by the
SLFEA as General Manager/Director, SLFEA,
who is paid a salary and allowances
exceeding Rs. 60, 000 which itself is a
violation of government circulars governing
the employment of retired public servants.
The upper limit of payment in such instances
would be, except in exceptional situations,
Rs.30,000 and no more.
Leaving that aside, what is significant here
is that the Board had collectively set their
hearts on a piece of property and has simply
gone ahead with that decision despite tender
The initial property valuation conducted by
Additional Chief Valuer, R. W. M. S. B.
Rajapakse stated that the property at
present held a commercial market value of Rs.
42,500,000. This valuation was directed to
the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Agency (SLFEA)
on September 24, 2008.
Next, an effort was made to get a private
valuation of the same property, as the owner
of the property was reluctant to sell the
property for Rs. 42.5 million.
The argument was that the owner was unhappy
at having to sell the property so cheap and
the reason perhaps for seeking a fresh
private valuation was a bid to appease the
A private valuation was then conducted on
the premises bearing assessment No: 12,
Narahenpita Road, Nawala by valuer P. G. Walpita.
This valuation report dated November 24,
2008 stated that the report was made at the
request of the Accountant, Sri Lankan
Foreign Employment Agency (Pvt) Limited for
the purpose of ascertaining the present
market value of the above property.
The stated date of inspection of the
property was November 22, 2008.
Under the sub heading 'evidence of value' it
is stated that 'readily buildable commercial
sites in this locality transacted at rates
ranging from Rs. 2,500,000 to Rs.3,000,000
per perch depending on factors affecting
the property market. A commercial site
further down along
has changed hands very recently at the rate
of Rs. 3,000,000 per perch,' it stated.
Thus, in this valuation, a perch was valued
at Rs. 3,000,000 totaling to Rs. 56,700,000
with the additional building of 2,694 sq
feet at Rs. 3,500 per sq feet totaling to Rs.
9,429,000, a roof terrace of 470 sq ft at Rs.
1,500 per sq ft totaling to Rs. 705,000 and
the present value of the premises coming up
to a grand total of Rs. 66,129,000.
In his valuation, valuer Walpita concludes:
"I am of the opinion that the present market
value of this above property is Rs.
66,125,000 as at date, without restrictions
in conveyance, devoid of defect in title
easement, liens, servitudes, free of
encumbrances from the ceiling on housing
laws, LRC laws etc.'
It adds: 'In order to purchase the above
property, the purchase price can be
negotiated from Rs. 60,000,000 to Rs.
65,000,000 in the buyer's point of view.'
It is subsequent to this that a letter was
presented to the Board of Directors under
the title 'New premises for the SLFEA' dated
December 18, 2008 bearing the signatures of
Director Gamini Ekanayaka, Director Nimal
Siriwardena and General Manager/ Director,
Mrs. R. V. Nanayakkara, members of a special
committee appointed to check on the said
matter and to report to the Board.
In this explanatory note, the trio stated
that the location of the proposed premises
had a land extent of 18. 9 perches with a
two storeyed newly built house with 2,694 sq
ft and a roof terrace of 470 sq ft. It added
the location to be ideal as it was situated
in a commercial cum residential area in
Nawala, adjoining the HNB bank.
"The government valuer has valued the
property for Rs. 42.5 million. Since we
could not convince the owner with this
price, it is decided to revalue the property
using the services of a private valuer," it
adds, at a time when already a private
valuation had been carried out by P. G.
Walpita, a gentleman on the NSB valuation
panel, the same bank the SLFEA intends
approaching in order to raise a loan against
The report adds that the SLFEA has looked
for suitable places to relocate the SLFEA
office but failed to find anything suitable.
'Even the owner of the building the SLFEA is
currently occupying has quoted a price of Rs.
80 million, which seems not worthwhile for
this 22 year old compact house with limited
parking space,' it added, by way of
justification for settling on a property
with two extremely varying valuation
The report adds that the SLFEA has no
property of its own and it would be an asset
to purchase a building of high value which
will experience an enhanced market in the
A plum choice
The three-member report added that according
to the valuer the readily buildable
commercial sites in this locality transacted
at the rates ranging from Rs. 2.5 million to
Rs. 3.3 million per perch and provided a
host of other facilities that made this
building a plum choice.
Further, it noted that if the new premises
were purchased, the monthly rental of Rs.
140,000 paid for the current office premises
would be an additional saving to the SLFEA.
In Paragraph eight of the report, it
importantly added: "The committee negotiated
with Premathilake the owner of the property
and finally he has agreed for a compromise
and to bring down the price to Rs. 62
million. With this price, the value per
perch has come down to Rs. 2.74 million,
which is lower than the valuer's estimate of
Rs. 3 million per perch."
The committee proposed to obtain a loan
against the FDs available in NSB.
At the end of it all, a resolution was
unanimously adopted at the SLFEA Board
meeting to purchase the property for its
Chairman, SLFEA, N. M. Shaheid on December
26, 2008 wrote to Secretary, Ministry of
Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare in
which it strangely declared the financial
status of the organisation and that since
its inception in 1996, it had steadily
progressed with a sum of Rs.160 million in
fixed deposits. It added that however, the
SLFEA did not have a property of is own to
house its office.
Following the sub committee report, the
SLFEA Board of Directors recommended the
purchase of the above mentioned property as
it was 'ideally suited' and 'well located'
for its business purposes. As such, the
SLFEA has decided to purchase the property
for Rs. 62 million following a unanimous
It is now learned that despite the Board
resolution and other relevant documents
being submitted to the Ministry for
approval, the top officials there are
keeping their own counsel and are not too
happy with the decision - with no tenders
and in stark contrast to the government
valuation just to appease the owner to sell
It is learned that the top officials at the
Ministry now require the SLFEA to justify
this decision to go ahead with the purchase.
With no tenders being called and the
property hand picked, some raise the
question as to whether there were no other
properties for consideration that there was
a need to overlook tender procedures and to
have the property revalued by a private
valuer to appease the seller. Over to you
Top Ministry source
A top ministry source speaking to The Sunday
Leader on the basis of anonymity said that
the SLFEA has been requested to justify as
to why the Ministry should approve of such
purchase, given that there is a huge
discrepancy in the two valuation reports.
Chairman not contactable
Chairman, Sri Lanka
Foreign Employment Agency (SLFEA) was not
available for comment for two days. His
mobile telephone also did not answer,
despite The Sunday Leading doing its best to
obtain his views on the same.
General Manager not contactable
General Manager/ Director, SLFEA, R. V.
Nanayakkara was also unavailable for comment
whenever we telephoned to obtain her views.