The Sunday Leader

Lanka Owes US Lobby Group

A lobby group based in the United States has said the Sri Lankan Government was three months in arrears on payments for a contract it terminated last month.

The Associated Press quoted Connie Mack, executive vice-president of Levick Strategic Communications LLC, as saying its client, Sri Lanka’s central bank – whose chief has been replaced by the new government – was three months or $180,000 in arrears on payments for the contract it terminated on January 28. Mack said he planned to meet with the Sri Lankan ambassador in the US soon to discuss the issue

Sri Lanka has terminated lobbying contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars a month that the previous government had signed to help it win friends in Washington amid war crimes allegations.

The investment in lobbyists to foster political and economic ties had gathered steam last summer, in the dying months of the administration of then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, but with little apparent benefit, as Sri Lanka’s international isolation deepened over its refusal to credibly probe civilian deaths during the civil war that ended 2009.

But political change inside Sri Lanka itself has done the trick. There has been a turnaround in the U.S. relationship after new President Maithripala Sirisena won Jan. 8 elections and promised democratic reforms and accountability for human rights violations.

Washington-based lobbying groups are often hired by foreign governments to help win the ear of U.S. officials, lawmakers, media and other opinion-makers. Justice Department online records show Sri Lanka signed eight contracts with such groups from 2014, with monthly fees ranging from $5,000 to $75,000.

“The new government does not see a reason or requirement to have lobbying groups at this juncture,” Sri Lankan Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam told The Associated Press on Friday. “To my knowledge, all those contracts have been terminated since the election of the new government.”

Vinoda Basnayake of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP said soon after the election, the embassy informed his company that its $35,000 monthly contract was not being extended.

Kariyawasam, a career diplomat who became ambassador last July, told the AP he did not know if any payments to lobbyists were outstanding because he did not sign any of the contracts.

3 Comments for “Lanka Owes US Lobby Group”

  1. Lal.Fernando.

    Dear Mr. Kariyawasam you may not have signed these contracts, but I am sure what was going on. Please be honest and speak the truth.I respect you for been a courier diplomat. But with this incident I can smell the rat.

  2. Eng.M.V.R.Perera

    Let them sue the person who signed the contract

    • tomsam

      You mean the govt .of the Banana Republic of sinking lanka ruled by pakse mafia.
      The country has been plundered to the bottom scrapings and the funds are sitting in one of the 92 accounts in swiss banks!!

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