State Minister of Labour and Trade, Ravindra Samaraweera, was caught red-handed in a clear indication that he intended to circumvent established tender procedures.
Samaraweera was caught on camera and microphone yesterday during a press briefing when he answered a call on his mobile phone and told the caller to speak with the relevant secretary of the minister.
“Ok, Shakya, I have spoken with the amathithumiya (female minister) and it has been put on hold. [She] told me to ask you to submit a tender as soon as possible. Yes, yes, she has already spoken [arranged it]. She has a secretary named Indrajith Wijesuriya. Meet him and submit your tender immediately. Go to her ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Employment. Go meet Indrajith Wijesuriya and give me a call, ok?”
The minister mentioned is therefore clearly Thalatha Athukorale. Samaraweera appears to have come to some kind of agreement with Athukorale regarding bringing to bear undue and illegal influence on the tender process.
We publish below the relevant telephone conversation broadcast by MTV though the editorial comment of the news station erroneously says the tender has been put on hold but the minister has clearly stated that this tender has been called. (By Renuka Jayasinghe)