Being cash strapped and facing a virtually bankrupt economy has not prevented the UNP dominated government from agreeing to pay Rs 300 million to Nihal Sri Ameresekere, who, among many titles, styles himself as a professional consultant.
This is on top of Rs 100 million already paid to him by the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa government. The fee was in the form of a temporary overdraft from the Bank of Ceylon given to him last year.
A total of Rs 300 million as payment (inclusive or Rs 100 million already extended as ToD) is because Amerasekera claims he together with the Secretary to the Treasury and Attorney General “discovered a fraud in the construction” of the Hilton Hotel in Colombo. He also claims that it was his intervention that led to defaulted interest on Japanese loans and 30 % Loan Capital being written off.
This is not the only reward he has sought from the government. He has insisted that two slots on the Board of Directors of Hotel Developers Ltd, the owning company of Colombo Hilton be reserved for his nominees. When all directors of this company resigned last week, Ameresekere’s daughter and another friend refused to submit their resignation. Not even Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s request to seek their resignation has been successful.
In a letter to Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake dated March 25, 2016, Ameresekere has said at a meeting with the Minister, Treasury Secretary Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga and Deputy Treasury Secretary S.R. Attygalle “consensus was reached to formalize the conclusion of the professional compensation payment to us at Rs 300 Mn., as a full and final settlement suggested by the Treasury in December 2014 (which was under the previous government).”
In the letter Ameresekere has also said “in addition to the above contractual obligation by the government, we are also entitled in terms of the Agreement to nominate 3 Directors of Hotel Developers (Lanka) PLC. Hereto, as requested by you, we acquiesced to the appointment of only one Director.”
The move to pay Ameresekere Rs 200 million more comes as the payment of Rs 100 million has become the subject of a probe by the Cabinet Sub Committee on Economic Affairs.