Minister of Telecommunications & Digital Infrastructure Harin Fernando effectively put a maximum payable price on the proposal for Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) to purchase the troubled telecommunications service provide, Hutch.
Fernando addressing an SLT gathering with Mobitel personnel in the audience, claimed that both he and SLT/Mobitel Chairmn, Kumarasinghe Sirisena, were being treated ‘like punching bags’ over the proposed ‘Hutch Deal’
“We are trying to buy 100 million Phase 7 project at 95 million,” he said. Fernando in fact insisted “A 100 million project was never even cited at me.”
Colombo Telegraph revealed that there are moves to purchase Hutch at approximately US $ 50 million (over Rs 7 billion) beyond what would be a reasonable price.
Fernando does not contradict the claim since all he has said is that SLT was trying to purchase at 95 million (he does not mention the currency). That would in effect be an initial “low-end” proposal, which means that the amount could be much higher at the point of purchase.
Whether or not Fernando was aware of the Chairman’s machinations, this statement puts a lid on the price, making it politically disastrous for a purchase exceeding US $ 100 million (approximately Rs 140 billion). The original plan, as Colombo Telegraph revealed was to “reach an agreement close to US $ 140 million”.