Sri Lanka Pays PR Firm Over Rs. 500 Million To Boost Post-War Image

  • Hundreds of millions paid to British PR Firm for  2018 Commonwealth Games bid
  • The Indian government spent $ 8.5 billion to host the Commonwealth Games, which turned out to be a national disaster

By Frederica Jansz

The Sri Lankan government is reportedly paying a top British PR firm about 3 million sterling pounds (Rs. 545,880,000) a year to try to enhance the country’s post-war image. The Sunday Leader spoke to Central Bank Governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal who maintained that, “many agencies are terribly tarnishing the country’s post war image. So we have to counter attack by taking steps to boost the country’s image.” Cabraal however refused to divulge the government’s plan on how exactly it intended boosting the country’s image or if indeed over Rs. 500 million has been paid to the British PR firm.
“I cannot reveal as to how we are going to do it. It is our duty by the country to boost the image and we would certainly do it. No question over it,”  Cabraal said. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, is also co-chairman of the committee organising the Hambantota 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Reliable sources who requested anonymity told The Sunday Leader that hundreds of millions of rupees have been paid to Bell Pottinger to improve the country’s image in advance of Sri Lanka making a bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Over the past few years, the Indian government spent $ 8.5 billion to host the Commonwealth Games (CWG), a multi sport event akin to the Olympics, which were held in New Delhi from October 3 through 14, 2010. The official purpose of the CWG was to generate “national prestige” for India. But the Games did no such thing. In fact, the CWG were a national disaster.
Meanwhile, on January 31, President Mahinda Rajapaksa joined the Co-Chairs of Sri Lanka’s bid to bring ‘the island jewel of the Indian Ocean’ its first Commonwealth Games in unveiling the Hambantota 2018 emblem.
Opening the proceedings at his office, Temple Trees, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said: “This launch of Hambantota’s 2018 Commonwealth Games emblem signifies the rapid progress Sri Lanka is making since the tsunami and the end of terrorism. We are moving forward together as one nation and look forward to the opportunity of welcoming our friends throughout the Commonwealth to Sri Lanka and Hambantota in 2018. Our bid for the 2018 Games is also an important message to everyone in the country that we are an ambitious nation, growing rapidly in economic and social development.”
The BBC  Sinhala Sandeshaya Service last week also reported that it reliably understood that the Sri Lankan government is paying a top British PR firm about £ 3 million ($ 4.7m) a year to try to enhance the country’s post-war image.
The BBC quoted a Sri Lankan government source who did not want to be named, confirmed to the BBC that the amount paid to Bell Pottinger was in the region of £ 3 million this year.
The government says it employs several PR companies but will not disclose their names or the amount paid. Bell Pottinger did not respond when contacted by The Sunday Leader and have been quoted by the BBC as also having refused to give details.
Last month the firm helped promote the UK visit of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, who gave the keynote speech at London’s International Institute of Strategic Studies.
The millions of rupees forked out to the British PR firm come as  Sri Lankan households are creaking under the cost of rising food prices. Most essential food items are selling at an all time high making the daily grind even more difficult to bear. World events, poor weather globally and short term planning have all conspired to burden the average household.

  • ‘Inconvenient and difficult decisions also necessary rather
    than popular decisions that will lead to darkness’ – MR

President Mahinda Rajapaksa Calls For Attitudinal Change
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the nation at the sixty third Independence Day celebrations held in Kataragama on Friday February 4, stressed that the people of our country must change their attitudes in order to help future progress of the country.
“There is the need for an enormous attitudinal change from children to adults to achieve national development,” President Rajapaksa said.
”Similar to the success of our conviction that terrorism could be defeated, we have also shown our ability to build large power stations at Norochcholai, Upper Kothmale and Kerawalapitiya, build massive ports in Hambantota and Colombo, develop major irrigation schemes as in Moragahakanda and Uma Oya, and make our cities clean, he said.
“We now face the immense challenge of restoring all that was lost to the nation, except the lives of those lost, in the thirty years of terrorism. The history of the world has shown that it needs a great deal of time to rebuild a nation that has faced such devastation,” he added, reiterating,  “The country cannot be developed solely on popular decisions. Inconvenient and difficult decisions are also necessary for the nation’s progress. It is the nation’s responsibility to take hard and difficult decisions to bring light to the future of our children, rather than take popular decisions that will lead them to darkness ahead.”

48 Comments for “Sri Lanka Pays PR Firm Over Rs. 500 Million To Boost Post-War Image”

  1. Crap Pakse

    First of all the Govt MUST DO the right thing by its people and the country.
    Corrupt ways, come clean with human rights policies and be answerable, proper law and order, proper tarnsparent policies and deals etc…are we now asking for too much..Then we do not have to pay any PR company to improve our image..The guilty are afraid.
    PR companies will get fatter by our money, Boss and rogue politicians get fatter by our money, common man starves and is emabrassed and disgraced by the way this country is led and heading towrds further hardship and disaster.
    PR company is only a band aid solution.

    • True Blue Pala

      NIVARD CABRAAL-THE BIGGEST CROOK AND CORRUPT SCOUNDREL NOW HAS THE KEY AND IMPORTANT POSITION AS THE BOSS OF THE CENTRAL BANK.
      HE TRIED TO CONTEST ON THE UNP TICKET AND WAS HUMILATED…NOW HE HAS SUCKED UP AND TOGETHER WITH HIS CROOKISH WIFE HAS HAD MANY A QUESTIONABLE DEALINGS AND DECISIONS…ANOTHER DEVIOUS FELLOW TO JOIN THE REGIME…DISGRACEFUL!!

  2. NeutralTamil

    1.a jumbo cabinet
    2.employ military personal as diplomats
    3.a foreign minister with 1000′s of employers under him all around the world.

    yet pay 500 million an year for british PR agency to boost country’s image? then y do we have diplomats around the world? isnt it their duty? the government does nothing for the business community, nothing to encourage the business n improve the economy. all government does is large scale with projects with the money we earn. there will be no difference.

    its like this, u earn Rs100 every month, n spend all the amount spending it.
    1.u dont save it
    2.u dont invest that money, u dont invest that 100 to make 200 next year.

    i dont get it, now we need to sacrifice today for better tomorrow? by how? going to middle east n working as maids? we know its our largest revenue generator, such a shame.

    all these ports n stadiums with the blood n pain of the maids. skinned alive, nailed alive n now we want to host common wealth games?
    y dont the rich countries tc of that? we have one game,cricket n we r hosting world cup spending so much, now common wealth games? we r a poor country, some 36% sri lankans earn less than $2 a day.

    1.lets feed those people who r hungry.
    2.lets have better preparation for the national disasters which will happpen in future. when we get a national disaster, people die, people die coz no food or no blanket to cover when cold or no medicine. such a shame.
    3.our national hospitals r full, well above the capacity, patients sleeping in hall ways of hospitals to get treatmane.

    DO WE REALLY NEED CWG or boost country’s image, when we need money for so much of these things? MR’s government is more about boasting to the world about sri lanka than do for the people who r starving.

  3. NotCorrupt

    All are corrupt to the core. They will be punished!

  4. ADA

    As a person who has completed rather honorable degree and post degree and professional qualification in england, i must say the money that is spent on PR si essential to maintain countries standards and the image. Not only that, when i watch CNN from the UK i see the visit sri lanka advertisement and various other forms of advertising which gives us sri lankan much to talk about.

    • cracko

      As a person with no honorable degree, I say that spending money on PR trying to improve ‘image’ will not improve standards. What is really needed for the people in Sri Lanka is improvement of standard of living. If that is achieved with equal treatment of various ethnic communities the ‘image’ will improve without spending on PR firms.

    • gunda

      Hi ADA,living in UK you seem happy to watch ads on CNN and other media and think that all’s fine in Sri lanka. God bless you.
      Please over to Sri Lanka and see for yourself the standard of living of people here, talk to them and hear about what the Govt is up to. Threats to opposition by armed thugs organised by ministers, threats, abduction, killings of media personnel. Also talk to ordinary Tamils who also want to have a normal life in their motherland.

    • motleyfool

      To ADA,
      Contradicting and dishonouring your professional qualification by denouncing social justice and reform says to me that you still have a long road ahead of you to make yourself erudite. Your objective to have attained higher degrees and enlightenment is admirable but educating yourself further is of no use to yourself or this country because you fail to see the more potent picture and cannot envision beyond your nose than that of an average GC/OL- 10th grader who I assume has better judgment and acumen than yourself. Unfortunately, it is few people of your ire ADA who sell yourselves that hamper the progress of this country. ADA, as an educated man you say who you are. If you do not see yourself as a subservient succor to a fanatical nationalist, ruthless regime with zero fiscal accountability under a tyrannical ruler, then I’m correct indeed to reckon that our fate as an emerging nation is indeed SEALED for good.

    • NeutralTamil

      @ADA
      exactly, u live in the UK n pay ur taxes to UK, n why should we(people living in lanka) spend our hard earned money to PR work, it will satisfy u, a person living in uk, but we tax payers of sri lanka get nothing by it. The tax payed by us have to be spend on our people, make their life better. not building new ports, new air port, new stadium and PR work. nothing of this will make our revenue increase. it just will show people who live outside the country, tht lanka is great.
      WE dont pay the taxes for that, we want our people to think lanka is great.

      the government should fulfill the needs of the person who HAVENT completed rather honorable degree or post degree and professional qualification in england.
      we should satisfy the farmers, the poor people of sri lanka, u know, 36% of our population earn less than $2?

      PLZ TELL ME A GOOD REASON WHY THE GOVERNMENT WHICH FUNCTION IN MY TAX MONEY, SHOULD SATISFY U? PLZ ANS ME

  5. sam

    Cabraal or better known as “Gold Finger” who had his finger in many pies before he was given such an elevated post (well above his qualifications) now has his paws and snout in the troff and will support anything as a yes man to MR.

    This man who cost 7000+ depositors of Golden Key company to become instant paupers by squashing a CB inquiry into this company is cursed by 7000 souls and their families and will have demons from the underworld following him and his family.

    If he is willing to support paying multi-million dollars to a company in the UK, why doesn’t he recommend to MR to pay the GK depositors their lost monies to boost the sagging image of the latter locally.

  6. Shesh Mendis

    I have heard that Ajith Nivad Cabraal and his wife were involved in an unethical, illegal ponzi scheme prior to becoming the Governor. He was questioned about this in the BBU Hard Talk

  7. Varnakula

    Sri lankan resident in London called Wasantha Basnayak has been the go between in this deal by Lankan Govt & Bell Pottinger. This man fled the island in late 80′s after having cheated millions of Rs. form a failed financilal Co. called Union Trust Investments in Colombo. Heard that he had dinner with Minister Rajitha Senaratna & a associate from Bell Pottinger in London recently. Please investigate him.

    Varnakula

    • Hora Modapakse

      Cant investigate him,,,as then will need to investigate many,many senior and most senior politicians..So how? not possible in this regime and climate.

  8. Ennis

    Sri Lankan government must understand,how would they give to the same region within a short space of time. Sheer waste of money.

  9. There is no need to pay any PR firm to boost the image of the country. The best way to boost the image of the country is to respect human rights law, proper governing, freedom of speech. How can you boost the image of the country when there is no law and order, killing, kidnapping? Money will not buy the image.

    • True Blue Pala

      Very Treu Suganya sri…Unfortunately the main people who should know and read this opt to do things corruptly and differently.

  10. Dual Citizen

    Yes, why waste £3 million of hard earned foreign currency on Bell Pottinger to counteract the Diaspora propaganda?

  11. carlos

    Egypt as we now know is one of the most corrupt and despot regimes in the world. How come they have one of the largest tourist industries in the world?

  12. You want a payment source? Sell the LTTE Assets, a clear gesture of justice from the source responsible for these problems.

  13. sri

    An image can be only as good as the object, as anyone with elementary physics will tell you. Paying Bell Pottinger £3 million to cover up under Emergency Regulations and what not while spending only a fraction of it or none on war victims and presently flooded out refugees unlike on Jumbo trips abroad at taxpayers expense is beyond words can express. Nero did that while Rome was burning 2000 years ago!

    See what’s going on in N.Africa. What is needed is a change from a murderocrcy to a true democracy from within. How on earth can Bell Pottinger do that? An imbecile idea.

  14. You don’t need PR firms to counter Tamil Diaspora or anything just have a devolution for all provinces and watch all the provinces become like Colombo

    Nathen

  15. Tom SamUSA

    You dont need to the extend of going after LTTE resourses; just review the kick backs and commissions that have amassed in foreign acconts.
    Charity begins with the big wigs at home first !

  16. Whatever u spend or whoever u choose to boost the srilanka’s post war image, the truth cant dissappear from this civilised world communitiy and it is simply a waste of tax payers money and on the other side watering the big corrupted sharks like Cabral, And one more thing is U CANT BOOST SRILANKAS IMAGE AS LONG AS THERE ARE SOME CABINET MINISTERS WHO ARE ALSO THUGS AND ROUDIES, MURDERERS LIKE DOUGLAS THEVA WANTED BY INDIA, FORMER TERRORISTS KARUNA AND PILLAIYAN. THERE IS NO PRESS FREEDOM JOURNALISTS ARE KILLED MEDIA CENTRES BURNT DOWN. ALL THESE ARE STILL HAPPENING IN SRILANKA .AFTER THE WAR KILLINGS RAPING AND LOOTING VERY CHEAPLY GOING ON IN THE TAMILS LIVING NORTH AND IN THE EAST. SO GIVE MUCH MORE MONEY TO BRITISH PR FIRMS LIKE BELL POTTINGER .BRITAIN NEEDS MONEY

  17. lanka putra

    That money paid to UK PR firm could be well spent on spending in tourist promotions. As many have said , if the country is governed in normal manner , then there should be any fear about the image. you may have noticed the assistance of the Military was crucial for the popular uprisings in Thailand, Tunisia & Egypt. So , SL army commander ( forget the other forces) may have to read a bit more than the ‘Daily News’ and think on behalf the nation.

  18. Expat

    SL’s image is already tarnished around the world. No point in trying to cover up human rights abuses, corruption poverty etc etc. The CWG in India was a complete and utter disaster. India owes many millions of dollars to countries. If the CWG in India was a train wreck, how can third world, impoverished, fly infested garbage dump SL with its broken buses, pot holes, run down buildings, smelly drains and starving population ever hope to hold a local sports carnival let alone the CWG. SL is small and and not even a dot on the map. How can you think of such an atrocious thing as holding a large scale event like the CWG that only developed, rich and prosperious countries like Australia can do. SL should first feed 80% of its citizens before thinking of holding a boat race.

  19. Roshan Amarasinghe.

    You don’t need no Rs 500 Million to give a better image to Sri Lanka. We Just need to change the Ambassadors and Consul Generals who does absolutely nothing to boost up the Image of Sri Lanka. These guys are attending parties and dinners every day and does nothing to improve the image of our country. They are not only behaving like fools in front of the Foreign nationals but fills up their pockets during their assignment. Where are all the Foreign service trained Diplomats? Where are these present monkeys coming from? Just known to the President, Relative or a relative of a Minister is not the qualification to become a Diplomat. Our country will never be able to boost up the image until these misfits are pulled out of these duties and replaced with trained foreign service personals. One such misfit had organized an Independent day celebration in a Western Country in a far western state and took the chance to promote nothing but himself. Every person who attended this celebration had to sit and listen to how this guy blew his own trumpet boasting about his own talents and successes. And now we waste Rs. 500 Million unnecessarily even without knowing where we are getting the money. Why do we have our Representatives in these countries? Why don’t they do their best to organize events in public areas in their respective countries to boost up the image? By showing the big screen videos, by appointing Sri Lankan community leaders who are knowledgeable in Sri Lanka matters to organize ” Visit Sri Lanka” presentations and do more public events to boost up the image. Aren’t these guys appointed and paid by the SLG to take the initiative to promote Sri Lanka? This is a JOKE !! We have guys who are appointed and paid by the Sri Lankan Government who does absolutely nothing to boost the image but now we are going to spend money for PR companies!! Only in Sri Lanka.

    • Karu

      Very well said. Why is that no one understands the real problem. Here in UK the same problem. I am glad some straightened out the real truth. What a Joke!

  20. willows

    what does Bell Pontinger know about the Sri lankans and sri lanka what tis the % of commission out of t his amount and to whom

  21. N K Ratnam

    journalists murdered for exposing corruption, murdering the deputy director of education for objecting to the Tamil children being forced to sing the national anthem in Sinhala, burning the news agencies, attacking the party demonstrators etc. mean you do need to spend millions on convincing the world that everything is hunky dory when in reality it isn’t.

    The owners of Bell pottinger and the brokers are laughing all the way to their bank while the tax payer is struggling to make ends meat

  22. Shesh Mendis

    I don’t trust this man Ajit Cabraal for even 2 seconds. He is very cunning, look at his face. He got hold of Mahinda Raja and Lalith Weera. Is he a former UNPer? Is he a Colombo Chetty? Definintely a Catholic?

    • True Blue Pala

      ABOVE ALL, HE IS ANOTHER CRAFTY AND SELFISH CROOK THAT FITS INTO THE GROUP WITH THE SAYING….”THICK AS THIEVES” THAT SHOULD SUM THE WHOLE SITUATION UP..

  23. ponsy bibile

    This man Caburall is holding a very responsible position which he is certainly qualified to hold only because of his bootlickin ability and not because of his qualifications. See what a mess he makes of himself and the countrys image when he opens his mouth to talk about the economic health of the country. He is a classic goebbels who doesnt even know what he is talking.Also, he is a corrupt opportunist who will concoct any lie, any ponzi scheme just to make a quick buck for himself. For this, he has an ably scheming wife to lean on. Like in Egypt, the people must take to the streets to sack him from his post before the cost of living in the country gets to even more dangerous limits.

  24. The government needs to entrust Rajiva Wijesinha and Dayan Jayatilleke, both clever proven ‘whitewashers’ to polish up the country’s image abroad.
    Bell Pottinger can learn from them.

  25. Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

    Gamarala is nobody else but Rajiva Wijesingha himself writing. ha ha ha

  26. Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

    Shehan, there are Cabraal Tamils (chettys) and Sinhalee. They are from Kerala. I don’t know about Ajith Cabraal. My instinct says he is a Catholic, but not sure. Can someone please enlighten us. I have heard about his wife in regards to the illegal ponzy scheme, but have never seen the womon in public. Cabraal was a very strong UNPer, now he is the darling boy of Mahinda Rajapakse. One day he will jump to UNP – just wait and see. I am in Canada

  27. Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

    As a prolific writer currently based in Canada I am currently writing a piece on JVP. I will glorify them in my forthcoming book to show that they were innocent youth who did not kill a single Sri Lankan but it was the Police that killed the JVP. My next two projects will be to write a book on Lionel Bopage (former JVP terrorist muderer now in Australia) who will be the future saviour of our land (President) and Ajit Nivad Cabrall (the illegal Ponzi Scheme operator with his wife), who will be the next Lalith Kothalawala of our land

    • Area Resident

      Dr. Ruwan,
      I do hope that your “doctorate” is not an honorary one. It is best that you do proper research before making ex-cathedra statements about the JVP or anybody else. Please inquire about the brutal emasculation of the then Grama Niladhari of Nelawa village (close to Hiripitiya in Hiriyala Electorate in the Kurunegala District) where the aged mother was even forced to view the dead son. The villagers will tell you whether it was the cops or “innocent young JVPers” Let us be fair in our comments. There was, no doubt, killing on both sides.

  28. baltagiya

    @Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

    There is nothing to write about Ajit Cabbaral. He is already richer than Lalith Kotelawela and seems to be getting richer each day with his scheming and bootlickin tactics. when the days of this regime are over he will quickly change the color of his tie to match the new ruling party colours (UNP?). Dont forget he also changed the CB rules on funds transfer overseas when the coming colors were not so good. Waiting for Wikileaks to reveal how many swiss accounts this man personally owns. Now, theres something you can write about.

    • Why are you using prominent people’s names to post dirty comments, Everyone knows that you are not Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge . I know Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge very well . This shows that you envy him, jealous of him and afraid of him. You have a serious personality problem pal, I am a afraid that Dr Jayatunge is in the USA and until he returns you have to take treatment from another doctor. I would recommend Dr Neil Fernando.

      G Subasinghe

  29. saddik soussi

    Dear Readers !

    Birds in the same feather flock together. So as Corrupted fools will will ever live as far as fools of voters bend and lend them. MR & Clan will be having high hopes nothing will topple them. long way to learn what happened in Egypt !!! In front of people power all satakaya’s US tie trousers are nothing.

  30. Ramees

    So 500 million is has spent to save Rajapaksa family which has damaged our reputation immensly. The world is looking at us as a blood thirsty barbarians..How many more billions need to be spent to repair the damage ?

  31. The Maldives spends more than US $ 20mil per year to boost and maintain it’s image so it could promote tourism. Which means if SL is going to compete it would have to do better in order for it to promote a better image.

    Diplomats are not PR agents and they cannot boost our image. In order for the country to have a better living standard we need to attract enterprises and build our economy. This could only be done with a better image. Like in business you have to spend money to make money.

  32. narakbadu

    ADA
    Your degree and post grad from UK…. is not even close to my driver’s knowledge who is not even a grade six but lives in SL

    give me your address I’ll send him over to UK to teach some elementary stuff.

  33. Bruz

    Good governance,justice to every one,eliminating crruption,maintaining rule of law,
    stop kidnapping,murfers,abductions,stopping white van activities,solving the national problem facing minoritoes, easing cost of living burden of citizen,accepting international norms,respecting human rights,freedom of people,press, civility etc.,
    can go along way to establish the lost credibility & the good name sri lanka once had. Without doing the right thing, spending millions in PR firm white wash is not going to help. Because the world is watching us. You cannot go on cheating or white washing for ever or hiding everything under the carpet for long.
    The country should be ruled democratically. That will do the necessary PR job.

  34. mercator

    What’s the problem here ? If any of the complainers can do better why don’t you persuade the company to work for free ?

    Many countries emply PR firms – why not Sri Lanka ? Is Sri Lanka not good enough ?

  35. mandy

    No point spending millions of pounds- taxpayers. Spend wisely on your own citizens and improve their lives. Promoting Sri Lanka is a wastage of time and money because Diasporas will kick out the President if he visits London and the police and government in Uk cannot do anything about it because it is a true democratic country and has freedom of speech and if any civilians get hurt the government or police are answerable. It is not like SrI Lanka where people disappear if people speak out.

  36. sumudu priyantha

    I think this man Ruwan has never steeped into a university to study medeciene. He is a master plageriser

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