22 July, 2017

BOI Chief Upul Jayasuriya Quits Citing ‘Personal Reasons’

Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman Upul Jayasuriya today announced his resignation, citing ‘personal reasons.’

Upul Jayasuriya

Jayasuriya had reportedly said that his decision to resign was taken strictly due to personal reasons and had also claimed that he had acted with honesty and integrity as the BOI Chairman and was not involved in any corruption during his tenure since 2015 as the head of the investment promotion agency.

Jayasuriya was the ex-President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

In recent months, several articles including in the state run Daily News have reportedly accused Jayasuriya of conducting his duties in a questionable manner including the deal the BOI reportedly signed with the Al- Aman group to build the tallest building in Asia.

According to the Daily News expose; Al Aman signed a USD $2 billion agreement with Sri Lanka’s Board of Investment (BOI) on June 30, 2017 to build the super-skyscraper in Colombo.

The alarm bells sounded early; Al Aman bills itself “a globally renowned chain with its operations spread across the world.” However, investigations by the Daily News found that there were no records of Al Aman offices outside of Sri Lanka except for one in the United Arab Emirates. The investment into Sri Lanka is billed as a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). However, the group’s head office is located in Sri Lanka. The group’s website provides one office in the United Arab Emirates with the location provided as No.709, Shk.Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktom Street, Ajman UAE.

“The Daily News contacted the listed phone number for the Branch (0097) 167473544 to be told that the “Phone number was out of service,” through an automated message. Repeated attempts found no projects that have been completed by the group. The subsidiary, Al Aman WCC, has all listed future projects within Sri Lanka, despite boasting of an international portfolio. The projects include Aman 101- Royal Empire and Aman Royal Island, in addition to the proposed World Capital Centre,” the Daily News said in its report published on July 11, 2017.

When discussing this issue with Upul Jayasuriya, on Wednesday, Colombo Telegraph was informed as follows:

Application was received by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI). The summary of the proposed project as stated in the Application is as follows:-

World Capital Centre will stand the tallest among other infrastructural marvels in Sri Lanka gracing a height of 625 meters and consisting of 117 floors as major mixed development project.  Proposed project will be located within the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. The building will house a hotel, business center, luxury residential and service apartments, leisure and recreational areas.

Based on the Board paper submitted by the Executive Director (Investment Promotion) through the Director General of BOI, the Board approved in principle the investment proposal by the name “World Capital Centre” funded by TU – E Capital Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., valued at US $ 2.4 Billion to be invested over a period of six years, which will in its entirety consist of Foreign Investment.

The investor having deposited an initial sum of US $ 2 Million in a State Bank designated for the proposed investment project, the BOI entered into A preliminary Agreement incorporating and imposing a number of conditions was executed with Al-Aman World Capital Centre Limited.  The said conditions included in the said agreement are as follows:

1. “ Para 6; The Agreement is subject to the condition inter alia that the Enterprise shall acquire good title to / good leasehold interest in the land / site and submit a copy of the title deed / instrument of lease as the case may be, to the Board within three (03) months from the date hereof.

2. …..The enterprise shall enter into a supplementary agreement having obtained the necessary approval and / clearances referred to in Clause (13) of this Agreement and until such time the Enterprise shall not be entitled to duty free imports referred to in sub clause (iv) of Clause (11) hereof, under this Agreement.

3. …..Failure to comply with the above shall invalidate the Agreement and this agreement shall thereupon absolutely be determined and the Enterprise shall forfeit all amounts paid to the Board.

4. “ para 7(11);  ……… Presales advances collected from the buyers shall not be considered as a part of the investment in the determination of concessions granted by the Board.

5. …….7(111) in order to assure the commitment towards implementing the project, the enterprise shall require to remit United States Dollars Two Hundred Million (US$ 200 Million) to Sri Lanka on or before the 31st December 2017. However, in the event such remittance is not made as stipulated herein, the project shall stand terminated ipso facto.”

6. This project will not be entitled for any Tax concession as at date and the provisions of the Inland Revenue Law shall be applicable to the enterprise in respect of the profits and the income generated through the approved activities.

The investor in order to proceed with the proposed investment project is required to fulfill all of the above conditions. Failure to comply with the said conditions will in effect render the said Agreement null and void.

There was no commitment on the part of the BOI in the procurement of the Land.

The BOI is the principle agency mandated to promote and facilitate FDI as empowered under the BOI Act of 1978.

We as a country and the BOI have to be positive. We are not a regulatory authority. It is the role of the BOI to attract and facilitate investments as empowered by the BOI Law. There are however other regulatory bodies in the system of governance that have been established to play such regulatory role. In an instance where the prospective investor expresses an interest to invest in Sri Lanka, it is the duty of the BOI to do its utmost to facilitate such an investment. We cannot afford to take a negative attitude. Given the challenging global environment where we are placed 110 out of 190 countries as per the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, it is a challenge to attract investment, particularly when no tax concessions are offered while all countries competing for FDI in this region continue to offer such incentives. 

By the execution of this agreement, neither the BOI nor the country has been disadvantaged by any means. The Company is not placed in an advantageous position either. However skepticism that has been created would not only jeopardise this investment, but also have a negative impact on other prospective investments. 

Launching Sri Lanka to Galactic Heights – Al Aman Group

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Latest comments

  • 5
    3

    2 million USD deposited for a project valued at 2 billion is peanuts.At least 1% which amounts to 20 million uSD should have been deposited o show good faith by the investor.

  • 2
    2

    Question here is whether the BOI capable of evaluating economically good projects advantages to Sri Lanka.

    Here the serioys doubts on the ability of the BOI.

    Anyway AL AMAN have plenty of time till 31st December 2017 to bring in US$200.0 mn and prove their capability.

    However using the model of another similar project overseas without permission has created a serious doubt in AL AMAN’s credentials.

    Let’s wait and see…..for the truth!!!

  • 3
    2

    Question here is whether the BOI capable of evaluating economically good projects advantages to Sri Lanka.

    Here the serious doubts on the ability of the BOI.

    Anyway AL AMAN have plenty of time till 31st December 2017 to bring in US$200.0 mn requied by the BOI agreement and prove their capability.

    However using the model of another similar project overseas without permission has created a serious doubt in AL AMAN’s credentials.

    Let’s wait and see…..for the truth!!!

  • 14
    1

    When practicing lawyers are appointed to these positions there must not be a conflict of interest.
    For example anyone working at the BOI should not be appearing in court for a company or even associates of a company registered with the BOI. If there is such a lawyer /client relationship that company can be placed in an advantageous position when negotiating with the BOI for concessions.
    Who were the lawyers for this so called 2 Billion dollar investment ?
    Also the fact is that in the last two years volume of foreign investments in the country went down drastically . Should not there be a performance appraisal?

  • 3
    1

    It is wrong to say that BOI is not a regulatory body. It is. I can give advantageous to foreign investment companies and ensure other benefits like in the case of one Malaysian company electricity at a fixed price. This project looks suspicious. What is the need for such a building in Sri Lanka? will there be enough businesses to fill its shops, enough tourists to fill its hotel, etc. etc. A cost-benefit analysis should have been made more than the promise of 2 billion dollars in investment. Anyway, there is a requirement to bring in 200 million dollars by the end of the year. This may provide some safety and credibility.

  • 13
    2

    It’s all typical Sri Lankan mentality, they always look at things negatively. Instead of going out with begging bowel, why don’t we see things positively, and foster the private enterprise do the things for the nation. In Dubai, they have hundreds of towers put up by people from India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia etc. They obtain the required plots from the government of Dubai on lease or free hold basis. They sign the agreements with relevant government agencies and develop the properties, and sell the apartments or commercial spaces to any one who could offered them. They never ask silly questions like our stupid people. They give all assistances and encouragements to the investors for fruitful compelition and well being of the projects, and see that these projects bring multiple benifits to their nation. In this planets, there are billions of dollars private capital floating around for investment. Unless our people cultivate a welcoming mentality for private capital, they wouldn’t sight SL as an investment distination at all. Just see how Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam people are embracing and welcome private capital to every sphere of their economy. Event Bangladesh and Myanmar are too well ahead of us in this game, even though all of them started way late of us, and all of them are highly flourishing with these investments.

  • 1
    6

    The chairman of BOI may have relied on his executive staff to do their proper due diligence and brief him on the bona fides of the projects presented for approval. The chairman cannot be faulted for errors made by the executive officers, led by the CEO/COO and other investment appraisal officers, as the roles and responsibilities are clearly separated, where the chairman concentrates on policy matters and board governance, whilst the CEO and his executive staff must take responsibility for the day to day operations. Chairman Mr Jayasuriya’s resignation demonstrates his integrity, as he has resigned to uphold the stature of his office, given that ultimately the buck stops with the chair and the Minister, when any wrongdoing is highlighted . In fairness to the chairman Jayasuriya, who practiced clear separation of powers in the best traditions of corporate governance, we now hope the responsible officials including the CEO of the BOI should raise their hand to accept responsibility for misleading the chairman, and explain to the public and the Minister in charge, how and why such a lapse occurred, if indeed the newspaper reports about the company was true. As for ascertaining the source of funds and the financial viability of the firm in question, that is a matter to have been vetted properly by the due diligence officers in the legal department. It is important that the ministers and chairman’s of organizations are not taken to task everytime a serious professional lapse or a genuine mistake is made by the CEO and his supervising officials, who have enjoyed the separation of roles and responsibilities, and had been given a free hand to discharge their duties without political meddling.

  • 13
    0

    Can we start with a bit of accuracy, please?

    How can this proposed building be the tallest in Asia? Aren’t Dubai (UAE), and Saudi Arabia in Asia?

    I’m not going to bother going to Wikipedia etc.

    Why this obsession with beating everybody, instead of working towards peace, and the general well-being of citizens?

    • 6
      0

      Exactly, Sinhala Man. Why do we want the biggest building in Asia, etc.? Let us try to solve real problems and invest wisely and carefully.

    • 2
      0

      “Why this obsession with beating everybody, instead of working towards peace, and the general well-being of citizens?”

      Sinhala Man you forgot, we don’t learn. We nearly did the world tallest Christmas tree until we found out it was a bridge too far.

      Let us get one thing clear; Let us be the BEST using the BEST that are available around us, and let our kith and kin be disqualified as a result of their kinship to us.

      You see Sinhala Man, the book we studied when young on morals and proper conduct has been out of print for over 60 years… Ever since Bandaranaike in fact. That book of ours isn’t published anymore. What we see are those who have read the later editions written by different authors whose measure of success was far removed from ours.

      That is the problem! We cant blame them!!! :-))

  • 10
    3

    When I saw the initial report of this project launch, I googled the Principals of Al Aman group and could NOT FIND a single person worth 100,000$, let alone more. How did the idiots at BOI verify and approve this project. Don’t you have to provide proof of completion of previous projects and bank statements going back many months at least. Remember the Volkswagen and the Tire factories that were essentially a land grabs by supporters and racketeers of Yahapalanaya.
    [Edited out]

    • 4
      0

      Tyre factory was a back door entrance of a crony of the previous regime. He is non other but the one and only Nandana Lokuwithana of ” DUBAI MARRIOT ” fame. Fraudulent investor of Goat’s money. Hi Pal You got it wrong. it was approved by not BOI chairman but the subject Minister Malik Samarawickrama we beleive. This is what the news papers said at the time. Get your facts correct before you correct.

  • 6
    0

    Hey Upul, use your bit of grey matter. Perhaps either these people are front for some big investors, and they are using them for their own reasons or they lined up behind the scene some big time investors to back the project. Like how Mr. Jayasuriya has started, let us give them a break for them to move ahead with it. If they do it well, it’s going to be good for all, else it’s a big fall for them, and wouldn’t effect the country or any one else per the conditions spelt out in the agreement with the BOI.

  • 5
    5

    At least he was man enough to step down unlike some of the other shameless leeches who hang on for dear life sucking the blood of this country .

  • 6
    2

    Oracle…seriously?? What has masculinity got to do with anything? Jayasuriya should have resigned before the signing tamasha. He like his masters hoped to hoodwink the country with a false story and the facts revealed themselves. So, he had to resign to safeguard the other culprits. As with all things Sri Lankan, we will forget it all, when the next scandal comes around in the next couple of days. We don’t have an educated well paid media…so its all innuendo and rumour mongering most of the time. You can rest assured the 2million $ supposedly the deposit of good faith must be a mirage in the UAE desert.

  • 8
    2

    It is this same Upul Jayasuriya when he was the chairman of state tractor corporation under the then President JR Jayawaradane broughtforth the demise of that very Great Enterprise. Why do we appoint such inaptitude persons as corporation chairmen, why?

    • 2
      0

      “Why do we appoint such inaptitude persons as corporation chairmen, why?”

      It is because he was a responsible (very important) party in firing Two CJs in one day (SB and Mokan Peiris). This guy helped Yahapalanaya to do that without even Parliament. But the Old Royals, with the help of their “Weerawansa’s Kangaroo Parliament”, was able to fire only one CJ like that. Yahapalanaya did an amazing performance of two in one stone.

      He may deserve more than 18 Billion in foreign Bank Accounts. My recommendation is to eye on the next election to become another next injustice minister! Until that, for a short time, a CJ job will do.

      Uma Oya is another project Master minded by the Iran’s Kings, the Ayatollahs, while Ambassador Robert Blake released a little bit of dollars for Iran so that Lankawe can buy the Oil from them. Uma Oya is best example of the Sinhala Intellectuals use the Appa Diplomacy to fool the Western Diplomats.

      The worst is yet to come from deal from the 65,000 Iron Cages for North-East. Another man with unknown qualifications is responsible for that deal.

      Sinhala Buddhists have to start to pray the New King’s Thirukkai Vaal more than Tamils pray Lord Muruga’s Vel. That is the only one can save them from these demons. Otherwise all the King Adulazees going kill each other in Middle East in competition to bribe the Appe Aanduwa looters and buy this small Island as their colony.

  • 8
    1

    The entire story of this investment is dubious. World’s ninth tallest building. 20 swimming pools, Michelin star restaurant; double decker elevators etc.
    Truth- Michelin star restaurant no one can start- the STAR has to be earned. 20 swimming pools- show us one building in the world that has 4 swimming pools. When you google the company name – Sri Lankan names come up. Their website – shows this project and another 80 floor project North of Colombo and 35 floor complex in Jaffna. No other previous projects shown. All pipe dreams- or hastily put up.
    Common sense shows it is a dubious project. Where is the project located? Did other investors show interest? All point out to a major deal- handing over state property.
    A proper inquiry should be held to make those responsible accountable for their actions. This puts the BOI in an amateurish / deal making light in front of the world

    • 2
      0

      Dear Sam Silva,

      Many thanks for all the homework done on our behalf.

  • 3
    1

    i think the entire board has been asked to resign by the president.First of all the rot starts at the top and malik samarawicrema has to be removed as the minister in charge,but won’t be cos he is a crony of ranil who is always loyal to his cronies and lost his job in 2002 when chandrika called the elections.At that time ranil had finished 2 years.Now also he is nearly completing 2 years and same situation if maitri calls for a election.The FDI got from the BOI is dismal indeed and malik samrawickreme and all top BOI officials should leave and everything started again freshly.They have been very arrogantly dealing with foreign investors practically chasing them away.

  • 1
    2

    Aiyo Aise , “Kumbalaa kawanam wamarapan” What is the next move for him, of course he got the title of P.C. Yet to hear anything meaningful from this guy. May be he will castigate who ever speak against his sponsor.

  • 1
    0

    ” The chairman cannot be faulted for errors made by the executive officers, led by the CEO/COO and other investment appraisal officers……”

    The buck stops with the chairman. It must.

  • 1
    1

    Dear Kokilai Weerarathne

    He destroyed Tractor Corporation, Bar Association, BOI, what’s next? He’s Ranil’s man

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