The Friday Forum has today called upon the government to immediately place in the public domain the details of all agreements, assessments and regulatory determinations related to the Colombo Port City development project.
The government’s review of project must also be conducted with complete transparency, inclusive of a mechanism for public submissions to this review process, the Friday Forum said.
*The Port City – Photo – Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
Issuing a statement today the Friday Forum said; “Given the significant financial interests at stake with this project and the considerable scope for corruption, there is a need for on-going public disclosure of all aspects of the project, as well as timely investigation of allegations of impropriety or irregularities to date. The ‘exclusive’ nature of the proposed development project also calls for a public debate of whether its benefits and costs will be shared equitably (through taxation for example) amongst the citizens of this country, especially those living below average income levels within and beyond Colombo. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the long-term interests of all the Sri Lankan people override any other considerations.”
We publish below the statement in full;
Full disclosure needed on Port City project
The Colombo Port City development project is a matter of considerable public interest and controversy, because of the unprecedented level of foreign direct investment involved and also because of concerns raised about the project’s impact. The project is currently under review by an expert committee appointed by the government, which will report to a Cabinet sub-committee headed by the Prime Minister that will reportedly make a final decision about the project.
Inadequate information to make a responsible decision
The lack of specific detail available in the public domain (and in the hands of the Sri Lanka government) about the construction and operational phases of the project precludes a robust evaluation of its initial and longer-term environmental and social impacts, its economic viability and potential benefits, or indeed what implications it will have for governance and foreign relations. In the absence of this information, it is not possible to responsibly determine whether the project is in the Sri Lankan people’s interest – and whether it should be allowed to proceed, be subject to modification or terminated, or indeed to assess what the costs and benefits of these options would be. The lack of clarity and transparency with regards the terms of the agreement between the government of Sri Lanka and the foreign developer is a major hindrance to public scrutiny of this project that has far-reaching implications for Sri Lanka.
Based on the limited information currently in the public domain, there have been major concerns raised about the project’s environmental, economic, social, geopolitical and national sovereignty implications. Questions about the lack of due rigour on the part of the previous government and relevant regulatory authorities in the evaluation and approval of the project have also arisen. This is illustrated by the glaring absence of a comprehensive feasibility study, serious limitations of the original environmental impact study (e.g. the absence of detailed consideration of continuing impacts on the power grid, water supply and sewage and waste disposal systems) and subsequent expansion of the scope of the project without a full re-assessment. Credible fears have been expressed on whether the developer may have already exceeded the approvals granted and violated Sri Lanka’s environmental laws in the context of the dredging of sand for the project.
Full Public Disclosure
The Friday Forum calls upon the government to immediately place in the public domain the details of all agreements, assessments and regulatory determinations related to the Colombo Port City development project. The government’s review of project must also be conducted with complete transparency, inclusive of a mechanism for public submissions to this review process. Given the significant financial interests at stake with this project and the considerable scope for corruption, there is a need for on-going public disclosure of all aspects of the project, as well as timely investigation of allegations of impropriety or irregularities to date. The ‘exclusive’ nature of the proposed development project also calls for a public debate of whether its benefits and costs will be shared equitably (through taxation for example) amongst the citizens of this country, especially those living below average income levels within and beyond Colombo. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the long-term interests of all the Sri Lankan people override any other considerations.
Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe Mr. Ananda Galappatti
on behalf of the Friday Forum
Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Mr. Ananda Galappatti, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Ms. Manouri Muttettuwegama, Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Ms. Selvy Thiruchandran, Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Faiz-ur Rahman, Prof. Gameela Samarasinghe, Prof. Camena Guneratne, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Ms. Damaris Wickremesekera, Dr. Ranjini Obeyesekera, Dr. A. C.Viswalingam, Dr. G. Usvatte-Araatchi, Dr. Gananath Obeyesekera, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne.
Rio Ziegelaar / April 16, 2015
I find this really good. There should be more stuff from this FRIDAY FORUM regarding the rest of all the projects or investments. Someone needs to ask and somebody has to answer. Transparency is the only solution.
Amarasiri / April 16, 2015
“The Friday Forum has today called upon the government to immediately place in the public domain the details of all agreements, assessments and regulatory determinations related to the Colombo Port City development project.”
Good move. Talk to JVP. The want the same.
After discovery, can figure out if it is in the country’s best interest.
Make noise, a lot of noise, and talk to JVP!.
Dodo / April 16, 2015
The so-called port city is a major eye sore and environmental threat to people who live in low lying coastal areas along the island’s south west coast – mainly poor folk.
Why is FF silent on Arjuna Mahendran’s gross corruption at the Central Bank? The inquiry is dragging on and affecting the whole economy… Rather than an urgent one with top experts to close this ugly chapter and dismiss Mahendran.
Now The corrupt governor of the Central Bank – Arjuna Mahendran has just reduced interest rates to boost the Stock market aka. rich man’s casino in Sri Lanka. His model of “growth” is trickle UP – make the poor pay for the corruption of the rich.
Those of us who live on our saving and interest cannot live or pay our bills anymore.
People who worked all their lives and saved money hoping to earn interest enough to live decent lives are being penalized by the corrupt CB govenor. Ranil Wickramasinghe’s economic management is pro-rich and CORRUPT, not pro poor or the hard working and honest middle class… Bloody joke this Yahapalanaya!
Interest rates have been cut and immediately the stock market casino which was crashing turns around so that Mahendrans corrupt son-in-law can make more money..! Long lie Yahapalanya!
Don Stanley / April 17, 2015
Right on Dodo!
Ranil’s World Bank inspired notion of “growth” is outdated and disguised by the new budget to win the next election, but now more visible in the form of the corrupt Central Bank governor and his policies to boost the stock market which is indeed a place where black money is turned white!
Sri Lanka’stock market is a corrupt casino for the rich to get richer with PAPER MONEY while those who toil in the REAL ECONOMY are penalized and have to pay for the corruption of the rich…
Slower and more equitable growth of the REAL ECONOMY is far preferable to fictitious hight growth that is fueled by corruption, stock market manipulation and insider trading and paper money printing…
This form of “growth” that breed massive inequality to show huge growth figures that mask massive impoverishment of the majority, while a few corrupt crooks like Mahendran, Nivard Cabraal and their sons in law and political backers get rich, must stop!
Dinuk / April 17, 2015
Mahendran and Ranil Wickramasinghe are panicked because growth is supposedly slowing down. Mahendran is not an economist and seems even more corrupt that Nivard Cabraal. Niether were economists and had no understanding of political economy – which a CB governor should.. Dr. Wije would be far better head of CB.
‘Growth is slowing down’ because earlier growth figures were inflated to begin with…
The PF has previously pointed out that proxies for growth, such as electricity consumption, cement consumption (construction sector was a major source of growth); government revenue (indirect taxes constitute 80% of revenue and are closely correlated to the level of economic activity); imports; and private sector credit (there has been a pick-up in 2H 2014) have indicated that the official data was highly contestable. It is important, therefore, to recognise that growth is slowing down from a lower base than the 7.5% official figure. The balance of probability was that it has been in the 6% – 6.5% range.
Since the election, there has been a slowdown in public investment and the private sector is adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude during the current uncertain political interregnum. This is significantly due to the corruption scandal at the CB with Mahendran’s investigation dragging on and generating more uncertaity. The guy should be sent on compulsory leave and then dismissed once the investigation is complete because the facts of the case are a damning indictment of the guy, as well as, casting grave doube on Ranil Wickramasinghe’s economic prowess!
anonymous / April 16, 2015
Excellent work. The poor, innocent people robbed by the previous regime has the right to know how their hard earned money was used for the luxury of a few individuals. Friday forum, do not stop until you got the answers to all your requests. Sri Lanka does not need another ‘Hong Kong’ attached to it. Bravo Comrades!
dcn / April 16, 2015
Very good question. The public are given only bits and pieces of information with which they are all confused and unable to understand. But without their knowledge their rights to the country’s land, finance and problems are being committed by the politicians and government officials.
Will government arrange to give an uptodate position for the public’s opinion?
n.ethirveerasingam / April 16, 2015
Instead of sending off such letters can the Friday Forum legally challenge and get the govt to answer in court instead of it giving political polemics.
punchinilame / April 16, 2015
Friday Forum has to follow-up on this topic at a later time too, as most of FF work
has ended with an issue of a Statement and CT Comments?
The test for China has to be if the Project can be moved to a 300 acre block North-west
of Colombo, land-based and SL achieves the economic benefits without major enviormental damage.
Crazyoldmansl / April 16, 2015
What I want to know is exactly what terms and conditions the land was given to China. China is a state not an individual. China has the right to maintain an army and a navy and an air force and to build and deploy missiles. Can China deploy its army, navy, airforce and missiles on the land that the past president and his government have given it?
Is this gifting of land to another state an act of treason?
Sirisena Yatawara / April 16, 2015
Friday forum asserts of Colombo City expanding projects that these push by external forces caused the shift by India- RAW, USA and UK western hegemonic thinking from Sri lanka could be remain as past colonial model of political, economic and Social system.
In that drafted text of statement by Friday forum seems to be denied Colombo Expanding project by external reasons within Indian’ influences, such as newly discovered of recent evidence says that the mega development of new projects to do approved with rise by Indian BJP-RSS Domination in Indian ocean. So-called environment discoveries did any have appreciable impact of Colombo Expanded project led by UNP Ranil W…proposed of Report of committee.
The UNP-Ranil. W led committee of report, no doubt that will be higher criticism of text did not have a genuine internal impact of ongoing project. Model of incoming reports will created new evidence or new technique have made it the more plausible theory.
Rather UNP-Ranil W… were influenced by prevailing Indian RAW , US and UK hegemonic attitudes’ of increasing bullying people of Sri Lankan economic sovereignty undermined by foreign big powers.
This hidden truth has been denied by Bunch of Friday Forum elites.
Unfortunaly Friday forum are not even closed their own version of research and development of Colombo expanding projects funded by China. Forum move will be pure academic exercise, that created
anti-development of National Economy school of thought by Friday Forum that belongs to orthodox elites. It is too easy to be Friday Forum original by doing the opposite what everyone the else is doing.
In the review of such Mega project work is full of gross errors due to political prejudices of UNP-Ranil..W, MS and CBK, and fashions of democracy cannot be trusted in any of assertions or statement, unless it is confirmed by other, more reliable sources and International competent authorities.
Is better to concluded few words from Francis Bacon…..
“Doth any man doubt that if there were taken out of men’s minds vain opinions, flattering ,false valuation ,imaginations as one would, and the like, but it would leave the minds of a number of men poor shrunken things, full of melancholy and indisposition and unpleasing to themselves.”
Lasanda / April 16, 2015
What and who is this “Friday forum”?another bogus NGO of India to try and stop the development in this country???
thondamannar / April 16, 2015
Friday Forum is just a talk shop sans action.
They waited for so long. What was the delay in coming up with this statement?
Good questions are not good enough at this juncture.
Lasanda / April 17, 2015
When ever Ranil has an issue that he cannot solve he puts it to a bogus forum or a committee which never really solves any thing. This is why people rejected him in the first place. The fool Sirisena gave this man the power and we have to suffer!!!
Correction MR / April 17, 2015
Not all Poor are innocent -it was mostly the poor who aided the corruption of the previous regime and it is the so called innocent poor who are trying hard to bring back the corrupt leaders back to power, and why not? it is they who enjoy all the freebees of the country which has always kept the country from growing and always made us beggars.
It is the middle income earners who always pay the price ,it is they who suffer all the time ,because they are always struggling to live with some dignity.
Ranil Wijeyesekerar / April 17, 2015
What is the probaility that the Port city will not be a disastor. Can China back itup with an assurance to compensate us if it does. Can Insurance backed by reinsurance to the fact be obtained.
Jagath Fernano / April 17, 2015
The project will move on whether we like it or not. No chance of stopping it.
It is too late to stop now since costs will be too high to restore it and also pay compensation to Chinese.
Vanguard / April 18, 2015
The Friday Forum would make a good CABINET. They should run for office in the next election.
Pradeep / April 19, 2015
Thank you Friday Forum for calling for full disclosure of Port city project.
From the beginning we Citizens knew that this Port City and the “Nelum Kuluna” Lotus Tower were money draining fake projects For the world notorious crook Mahinda Rajapakse to pocket out our country’s poor peoples money. This is the way the crooks drain our valuable foreign exchange when our poor mothers, brothers and sisters doing Slave work in Middle East to bring in Foreign exchange and this is how the Political crooks waste those valuable foreign exchange.
Also Friday Forum should call in for full disclosure of the Central Bank scandal and all other illegal projects and fake projects.
Now it these Bankers who are the Biggest crooks in the world who work hand in glove with Politicians to rob countries wealth.
Both Greece and Cyprus were made insolvent by their Bankers and the Politicians.
We don’t trust any of Ranil’s Parliament select committees or any other Government bodies to investigate these corruptions, as they all work hand in glove with each other to cover up their backs.
The only political party we can trust at the moment is JVP and Friday Forum should work and share information with JVP and other reliable peoples organizations to bring justice to powerless citizens.
Also we want Friday Forum to take more active role in future Govt. political and financial dealings and should push the Government for full disclosure of future projects to the attention of Citizens, before they are been authorized by the Cabinet.
We citizens need to know on all the future projects that Government plan to carry out and their priorities and benefits to the Citizens before been authorized by the cabinet. Transparency is the key.