Cash strapped Ministry pays millions for new office
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
Power and Energy Ministry has spent Rs. 36 million to
move into a new office premises when the Ceylon
Electricity Board (CEB) under its purview records a
monthly loss close to Rs. 1 billion.
Ministry, which was housed in a state owned building,
has moved into the building belonging to the Ceylon
Workers’ Congress (CWC) in Colombo 3 at a monthly rental
of Rs. 1.5 million. The additional expenditure on the
Ministry is expected to further increase the long list
of state expenditure.
main headquarters of the CWC, Saumya Bhavan, was taken
on rent by the Power and Energy Ministry after paying
millions of rupees with Cabinet approval.
and Energy Minister John Seneviratne told The Sunday
Leader that three floors of the Saumya Bhavan building
were taken over by the Ministry after paying a two-year
advance of Rs. 36 million, which was approved by
Seneviratne said the Ministry was on the lookout for a
new office premises for the past two years since the
building owned by the Mahaweli Authority where the
Ministry offices were earlier located was in a
building was dilapidated and the conditions were
unsuitable for an office to continue in the premises.
The Ministry has been looking for a new place for the
past two years and advertisements have also been placed
in the newspapers about it,” the Minister said.
asked if the decision to move into the CWC building was
due to an urgent need for cash by the CWC to pay a loan
obtained from a bank against the building and property,
Seneviratne said he was not aware of a bank loan or any
other background about the building.
we found out about the building, there were official
discussions and it was finalised after I also saw the
premises,” he said.
Secretary General R. Yogarajan told The Sunday Leader
that the renting out of the Saumya Bhavan building was
made in an open and transparent manner after receiving
the bank loan, he said the loan was being paid through
Red Cross functioned in the building till January this
year. The rent we received from Red Cross was paid to
the bank. Once Red Cross left, we looked for a new
tenant. Once the Power and Energy Ministry expressed its
interest, it was all done in an official manner,” he
Yogarajan also said the bank loan has now been paid in
Int’l agencies warn of humanitarian
By Arthur Wamanan
International humanitarian agencies have urged United
Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Neil
Buhne, to urgently scale up advocacy efforts with the
Sri Lankan Government for the application of
humanitarian and protection principles on behalf of IDPs
and the humanitarian community, in order to avoid a
letter to Buhne, the 17 agencies expressed their concern
for the safety, protection and survival of the 260, 000
IDPs living in camps in northern Sri Lanka.
comparatively light rains on August 14, 2009 left four
zones of the Menik Farm camp in Vavuniya flooded,
leaving hundreds of families without adequate shelter,
water or hygiene facilities and causing the death of
five IDPs, including one child who drowned. Once the
monsoon rains set in after September, there is a
significant likelihood of a major humanitarian
catastrophe,” the letter warned.
agencies called upon Buhne to increase advocacy efforts
with the government in order to accelerate and expand
the release of screened IDPs from the camps to host
families, to expand the 180 day resettlement plan of the
government and share details of the plan with the IDPs,
the public and the humanitarian community and to ensure
freedom of movement of the displaced.
agencies pointed out there was lack of progress
especially in relation to free and unimpeded
humanitarian access, freedom of movement of IDPs and
information to the IDPs and humanitarian agencies on the
current status and resettlement plans, more than three
months after the last mass exodus from the Wanni.
“Moreover, and most critically, the high overcrowding
and inherent unsuitability of the Menik Farm site makes
it unsustainable and life-threatening, regardless of the
level of resources that could be mobilised at this
stage,” the agencies said.
organisations stated that floods and strong winds have
already damaged a large number of shelters adding that
the floods have already contaminated food supplies and
rendered communal cooking areas unusable.
seen during the recent floods, effluent and excreta will
contaminate drinking and bathing water, intensifying the
risk of epidemics of life threatening water-borne
agencies also requested Buhne for a meeting with him and
Country Representatives of UNHCR and UNICEF at the
earliest to discuss the matter.
letter sent to Buhne, early this month had been signed
by ACTED, ASB Sri Lanka, Care International, Cordaid,
Danish Refugee Council, FORUT, Handicap International,
International Relief and Development Sri Lanka, Malteser
International, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam
Australia, Oxfam Great Britain, Save the Children Sri
Lanka, UMCOR, Welthungerhilfe, World Vision Sri Lanka
and ZOA Refugee Care.
US war crimes report on Sri Lanka out
By Munza Mushtaq
crucial report on
alleged war crimes is scheduled to be released tomorrow
(21) by the US Department of State.
report, which could determine United State’s future
financial assistance to the island, will be handed over
to the US Congress for evaluation. US
Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp
in an interview with Time magazine on September 14
disclosed that his office was now primarily focusing on
Sri Lanka and a report from the Department of State on
the war in Sri Lanka is due in Congress on September 21.
Office of War Crimes Issues, together with the Secretary
for Global Affairs and the Secretary of State, has the
responsibility to collect information on ongoing
atrocities, and it is then the responsibility of the
President (Barak Obama) to determine what steps might be
taken towards justice. Like the canary in the coal mine,
we give the signal that something very serious is
occurring,” Rapp said.
Amendment 1169 to H.R. 2346, an Act making supplemental
appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30,
US Senators had earlier proposed to “prohibit certain
forms of financial support to Sri Lanka,” unless
certification is made by the Secretary of State that
“Sri Lanka has taken certain steps to address the
humanitarian situation in areas affected by the conflict
the forthcoming war crimes report by the Department of
State is mandated by the above Act, The Sunday Leader
Meanwhile, a source in the
told The Sunday Leader that State Department officials
have already contacted and obtained eye witness accounts
from a number of persons who have given details on
alleged war crimes committed in
Office of War Crimes Issues, helps formulate US policy
responding to atrocities in areas of conflict around the
this year, President Obama appointed Rapp, as his
Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues. As head of
the Office of War Crimes Issues, Rapp directly reports
to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding a wide
range of war crimes issues — from Darfur to Burma to
“Hikka pics”: three netted
persons have been taken into custody by the CID, Friday,
over the circulation of nude pictures via email that
were said to be from the Hikkaduwa Beach Fest last
arrested were to be produced in the Colombo Magistrate’s
Court No. 1 at noon on Saturday. According to police
sources this would be the first case filed under the new
Computer Crimes Act.
Tourism Authority sources said that the scurrilous email
was one aspect of a larger campaign that the CID was now
Complaint against former CJ
group of concerned citizens from various organisations
including the Movement for Justice and Equality on
Thursday (17) lodged a complaint against former Chief
Justice Sarath N. Silva at the Commission to Investigate
into Allegations of Bribery and Corruption.
complainants have accused the former Chief Justice of
misusing powers and corruption.
Special mention had been made in the complaint to the
link between a case filed by CEO of the former CBNsat,
Muhunthan Canagey, which was heard by Silva in 2006 and
Canagey’s subsequent role in setting up The Buddhist TV
in 2007. Canagey had contributed a donation of Rs. 65
million, which is considered to be one of the largest
contributions to be made by an individual, to set up the
channel where Silva is a director.
An appeal to the government – Statement
by UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya
this time of grave uncertainty when Sri Lanka is facing
severe criticism from the democratic world, we appeal to
the Government of President Mahinda Rajapakse to realise
that alienating the world would lead Sri Lanka to
isolation among the civilised nations and cause immense
hardships and misery to all her people, UNP Deputy
Leader Karu Jayasuriya said in a statement.
at this late stage the government must realise how
serious the consequences of its actions are going to be
for the people of this country. Today over a million,
direct and indirect jobs are in jeopardy because the
European Union is considering the withdrawal of the
Generalised System of Preferences (GSP +) concessions to
Sri Lanka. Restriction of issue of visas to Sri Lankans
travelling to some Western countries, also appear to be
need to understand that this government has long since
perfected the art of propaganda and spin doctoring. Each
and every adverse statement or action emanating from
outside our shores and particularly from the West is
being construed as a grand conspiracy against our tiny
nation, orchestrated by terrorists and terror
government should bear in mind that every country in the
world is expected to maintain a minimum standard of
conduct in state affairs if it wished to be accepted as
a civilised member of the global community. A nation or
a government that allows its citizens to be abducted,
tortured and killed arbitrarily with impunity, victims
of LTTE terrorism kept behind barbed-wire fences, kills
journalists, intimidates its detractors and opponents
and clamps down on every form of dissent simply does not
fall in to the category of responsible and civilised
states among the community of nations.
the democratic world is asking of us is the restoration
of democratic rights in
This is nothing new for a country which is one of
democracies and in fact, democratic ideals were
something President Mahinda Rajapakse himself as a young
opposition MP in the late 1980s agitated for extremely
UNP believes the implementation of the 17th Amendment,
which is a part of the Sri Lankan Constitution, will
resolve a bulk of the problems that has dragged Sri
Lanka into a group of countries considered to be having
a dictatorial regime.
the appointment of a newly constituted Constitutional
Council, Public Service Commission, National Police
Commission and Elections Commission, the country could
at least demonstrate that initial steps have been taken
towards restoring democracy and the rule of law in the
aftermath of a 30 year conflict.
Furthermore, the government needs to ensure press
freedom even at this late stage and commence immediate
investigations into the deaths of 11 journalists and 30
odd assaults on media personnel during the last three
years. The absence of proper police inquiries, leave the
government vulnerable and liable in the eyes of their
people and the rest of the world.
demand that the exclusive use of state media for
government propaganda and the character assassination of
UNP and its leadership be ceased immediately. It must be
stated that during the previous SLFP and PA regimes, we
never saw the abuse that we now witness on what are
essentially national television, radio channels as well
as newspapers paid for by the Sri Lankan tax payer.
opposition views are not reflected at all, other than
when there is an attempt to insult or vilify opposition
parties or their representatives. Authorities must
realise that the travel restrictions on opposition
members barring them from proceeding beyond
Medawachchiya, leave alone visiting the IDP camps, is a
serious violation of the rights of the people’s
Consequently MPs had to seek legal redress through the
Supreme Court in order to visit the former conflict
zone. It is a shame to note that such restrictions on
movement in one’s own land only prevail in dictatorial
regimes such as in North Korea, or when the north and
east lay in the iron grip of the LTTE. How strange then
that no attempt is being made to rectify this omission
immediately, since Sri Lanka is now ‘terror-free’ and
supposedly liberated from dictatorial despots with
proclivities towards land-grabbing.
draconian measures designed to silence a legitimate
opposition has no doubt contributed to Sri Lanka’s image
abroad being tarnished as an undemocratic country
governed by a totalitarian regime.
argument that these are internal matters which does not
concern the outside world does not hold water when there
is such a blatant breakdown of the law and order
situation in a country. By allowing gross human rights
violations to continue unabated, the government is
opening the doors for foreign intervention in
world which is determined to prevent human rights
violations of the like witnessed in Rwanda, Cambodia and
the Balkans in the latter part of the 20th century will
not stand idly by while such excesses are being reported
in Sri Lanka or elsewhere.”
Concluding his statement, Jayasuriya added that the
first signs of the world reacting to the oppressive
behaviour of the Government are now being witnessed with
the EU poised to abolish the special GSP + scheme for
Sri Lanka. He warned that such acts would only result in
immense hardship and misery to the masses.
Colombo Dockyard PLC responds
16th September 2009
Assistant General Manager - Regulatory Affairs,
04-01, West Block,
World Trade Centre,
reference to your above captioned letter seeking a
clarification regarding the accuracy of the article
appearing in page 02 of The Sunday Leader newspaper
under the heading “Colombo Dockyard faces penitential 5
Colombo Dockyard PLC has duly settled all taxes and
levies payable in respect of the 21 vessels in question
to the relevant authority, namely the Commissioner
General of Inland Revenue. In the circumstances the
reference to an attempt by Colombo Dockyard PLC to avoid
payment of Rs. 525 million and Colombo Dockyard PLC
facing a potential 5 billion claim is completely false
and without any merit whatsoever.
Despite the fact that the Colombo Dockyard PLC having
duly settled all taxes and levies to the relevant
authority as aforesaid and the Commissioner General of
Inland Revenue confirming the same, Sri Lanka Customs
were continuing an ultra vires inquiry into the payment
of Goods and Services Tax (GST), Turnover Tax (TT),
National Security Levy (NSL) and Stamp Duty.
circumstances the application of the Colombo Dockyard
PLC to the Court of Appeal was on the basis that the
continuation of the Customs inquiry in to the payment of
Goods and Services Tax (GST), Turnover Tax (TT, National
Security Levy (NSL) and Stamp Duty in respect of 21
Crafts is Ultra vires the powers of the Director General
of Customs and is not a bona fide exercise of the
statutory powers vested in the Director General of
Customs and the Court of Appeal has upheld the position
of the Colombo Dockyard PLC.
Director General of Customs has sought special leave to
appeal from the said judgment of the Court of Appeal and
Colombo Dockyard PLC would be objecting to the grant of
Special Leave when the application is supported in the
Nanayakkara has sought to intervene in the said Special
Leave to Appeal application. Colombo Dockyard PLC would
be objecting to the application of Mr.Vasudeva
Nanayakkara to intervene in the said application. We
have been advised that Mr. Nanayakkara has no right or
status to intervene in the said application.
reporter Faraz Shauketaly says: Our report is clear —
under the terms of the BOI agreements CDL were
contracted to fulfill certain conditions when selling to
the local market including especially the completion of
Customs documentation prior to delivery in certain
instances. Under the Customs regulations, the penalty
that may be applied is three times the original amount
i.e. Rs. 525mn x 3, making a total potential liability
of Rs. 1,575 mn in the alternative the confiscation of
the subject items.
Unfortunately, due to a typographical error we referred
to a potential liability of Rs 5 billion. In fact it
should have stated Rs 1.5 billion. Apart from that I
stand by my report.
Govt. trying to sell gold to
replenish its coffers
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
government in a bid to raise funds for its fast
depleting coffers had attempted to sell 38 metric tonnes
of gold in the possession of the Central Bank recently.
government had even initiated a dialog with a possible
foreign buyer for the gold about two months back.
transaction it is learnt would have brought in Rs. 140
billion to the state coffers. The selling price of an
ounce of gold in the world market is currently a little
above US$ 1,000.
who had also played a role in the discussion, told The
Sunday Leader that the government had held a discussion
with a foreign buyer through a broker who was introduced
by one Ruwan Pathirana.
According to Barkus, Pathirana had brought in the broker
and the buyer and had commenced discussions with the Sri
Lankan authorities to sell 38 metric tonnes of gold.
However, the deal had failed when the local authorities
had requested the foreign buyer to show his funds in
advance and the buyer in turn requested to see proof of
the gold that was to be sold.
happened about two months back and the gold sale did
not take place,” Barkus said.
asked if there were any negotiations taking place with
regard to selling the gold at present, he said he was
unaware of any such plan.
Sunday Leader learns that Ruwan Pathirana, who played a
key role in the discussions to sell the Central Bank
gold, is the head of the company, Satco Construction.
However, the government last week denied a statement
made by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that the
government was trying to sell gold in the possession of
the Central Bank without obtaining Cabinet approval.
‘Released’ IDP’s shifted to new
by Munza Mushtaq
10,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who were
released by the government for resettlement have instead
been ‘shifted’ to new camps, the Tamil National Alliance
(TNA) said Friday.
General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah told The Sunday
Leader that thousands of IDPs from Vavuniya’s Menik Farm
released on September 11, 2009 reportedly to be
resettled in their original hometowns have now been
moved to fresh camps in Jaffna, Ampara and Trincomalee.
resettlement appears to be a sham, these IDPs are now in
new camps in new locations where they are continuing to
undergo checking,” Senathirajah claimed.
Meanwhile, when The Sunday Leader contacted Resettlement
Ministry Secretary U.L.M. Haldeen, he said he was
unaware of this development.
not aware of them been shifted to new camps. We
transported them in busses to the relevant District
Secretaries, after that I did not follow up on the
matter. I have to check about it with the Government
Agents (GAs). I think the GAs have to first locate the
original homes of these IDPs and then resettle them,” he
total of 9920 IDPs were released from the Vavuniya camps
on September 11th in a much-publicised event, presided
by senior presidential advisor Basil Rajapaksa and
several other ministers.