30 September, 2020

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Pilfering As A Way Of Life – Cabinet Papers Of The UNP Led Government

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesingha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesingha

After the Central Bank Bond Scam, which there were so many desperate efforts to conceal, evidence about further financial fraud by the present government has come in thick and fast. Most worrying perhaps was the contract signed with regard to an unsolicited bid by the Metallurgical Corporation of China to construct the first phase of what is now known as the Central Expressway.

Or rather I should say the agreement, for a contract has been reported to Cabinet for only part of the area allocated to MCC. For the first section, from Kadawatha to Kossinna, there seems to be no contract, and no actual figure has been reported to Cabinet. It seems to be Rs 30 billion (the so-called savings which the Prime Minister claimed to have made on another road). He did not give details of these savings, which in fact happened because the scope of the road was cut down. And he did not tell Cabinet the precise length of the section of the central expressway to be built with these ‘savings’. Kabir Hashim has said it is 4 kilometres, which means that the people are paying Rs 7.5 billion per kilometer if we accept the Prime Minister’s claim about the ‘savings’.

RanilThe second part of the road is from Kossinna to Meerigama. That was an unsolicited project, with negotiations conducted over a weekend. The Prime Minister argued for giving this contract on the basis that another contract with the same company, signed by the previous government, had lapsed. He did not mention that the Attorney General, whose advice had been sought, had recommended that that contract be cancelled. Instead he said that, since the company had to be compensated for start up costs (how much these were was not revealed) they should be given a fresh contract for a different section of the expressway. The rate agreed on was Rs4.5 billion a kilometer, over 60% more than same company had quoted for the contract with the previous government that had lapsed.

The details of the agreement are as follows. This government has now entered into agreements with the Metallurgical Corporation of China to construct the first section of what they now call the Central Expressway. This is in two parts, from Kadawatha to Kossinna and from Kosinna to Meerigama. The Prime Minister sought Cabinet approval to sign a contract for the second of these sections, which is 32.5 kilometres. The sum that had been ‘negotiated’ was Rs 145.8 billion, Rs 4.5 billion a km as he claimed in his Cabinet Paper dated 20th July 2015.

The Kadawatha-Kossinna stretch is about 4 km, and the Minister of Highways said ‘that does not involve any cost to the government because the contractor has agreed to bear the cost of this stretch from the savings of the construction of out Colombo circular highway.’ The reference is to the 3rd part of the Outer Circular Highway, from Kadawatha to Kewaralapitiya, constructed by the Metallurgical Corporation of China. It was for that OCH3 that it was claimed during the Presidential campaign that 90% of the money paid had been pilfered on commissions – ‘If a total of Rs. 7.3 billion is spent per kilometre on the construction of the Kadawata – Kerawalapitiya highway, the amount pilfered is Rs. 5.2 billion.’

The contract for that was Rs 66 billion and the Prime Minister said the government cut down the cost by Rs 30 billion or 40%. He said this was by ‘stiffer negotiation’. In fact it was achieved by reducing the scope of the highway – change from viaducts to embankments, omission of an interchange, making it inner 4 lane rather than outer. It has been argued that 6 lanes are not needed on this highway, so it made sense to reduce to 4. However it should be noted that the original plan was for 4 lanes but with provision to expand to 6. It seems a pity that this will not now be possible. It should also be noted that reducing the length of the viaduct by over 2 km, and reducing its height by over 2 metres will increase problems with regard to possible floods.

I am not for a moment saying that limiting the scope of the highway is necessarily a bad decision. But my point is that the reasons for doing this should be made public, instead of a bland claim that stiffer negotiations led to money being saved, thus perpetuating what is now universally seen as the myth about 90% of the original 66 billion contract being pilfered.

Further more, the money ‘saved’ did not come back to the people of Sri Lanka. Instead the Prime Minister simply told Cabinet that ‘The government had already agreed that they (MCC) should utilize the savings in OCH3 to undertake construction of a few kilometres on the first section of expressway from Kadawata where the OCH3 terminates’.

The Cabinet Paper does not mention the precise amount of the savings. There is no indication of when or why the government had agreed to these terms with MCC.

On March 30th the Prime Minster had submitted a note to the Cabinet to say that ‘Unsolicited proposals in general should not be accepted as a matter of policy. In the future, all proposals should follow the Guidelines on Government Tender Procedure issued in 1998’. However, without formal Cabinet permission, the Prime Minister has simply announced that government agreed to the MCC proposal with regard to the Kadawatha-Kossinna section. If this is for 4 km as the Minister said, and if the amount ‘saved’ was Rs 30 billion, that means that the people of Sri Lanka are paying Rs7.5 billion a kilometer, with no contract and no detailed estimates. This is more than the Rs7.3 as to which it was claimed that 90% was pilfered.

There are also questions about the Rs4.5 billion for the other stretch, from Kossinna to Meerigama. This rate was ‘negotiated’ by a Commttee appointed after the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, approved on July 15th a Committee of four members to ‘oversee rates’. The letter from the Prime Minister giving notice of this did not mention with whom they were to negotiate. The Secretary to the Ministry of Highways and Investment Promotion (a relatively new one since the previous one had been summarily sacked) was asked the next day to appoint that Committee. Its report was ready for the Prime Minister to quote the rates it was recommending in his Cabinet Paper of Monday, July 20th.

That paper claims the Committee ‘has been able to negotiate an acceptable rate’. To prove this it makes a comparison with what the Japanese Contractor was paid for Section 2 of the Outer Circular Highway.

The Prime Minister also compares the rate which was finally paid to MCC for OCH 3. What is not mentioned is the rate quoted by MCC for the Pothuhera to Rambukkana section of the Central Expressway, which was substantially less.

It was because that contract had lapsed that the unsolicited bid for Kadawatha-Meerigama was promoted. In the lapsed contract, the rate quoted was Rs 48.2 billion for 17.5 km. That is Rs 2.75 billion a kilometer, much less than the 4.5 about which the Prime Minister expresses such joy in his Cabinet Paper.

Of course it could be argued that the conditions are different on the two sections and that is why this section is so much more expensive. But we also need to remember that that contract was negotiated when oil cost $110 a barrel, whereas now it costs $49 a barrel. As with the fuel price cut announced in the budget, the savings are clearly not being passed on to the Sri Lankan consumer.

So we now have a situation where the first section of the highway is given for an unspecified figure, with simply references to funds saved on OCH3, suggesting the rate is Rs7.5 per km. And for the remaining 32.5 km the rate is well over 60% more than the same company had quoted to the last government for another stretch of the highway.

***

All this is bad enough, coming on top of the Bond Scam. But there is also evidence of others getting in on the act. The Ministry of Power and Energy has proposed buying the 60MW Barge Mounted Power Plant currently in Colombo Port as a cost of Rs 640 million. The Barge is owned by Colombo Power (Pvt) Ltd, and has been in operation for the last 10 years, which would suggest it might not be fully functional now. Of course there was provision to take over the barge in the earlier agreement, but I presume that was also signed when he was the Minister in charge.

And finally the people should be aware of a proposal that may not be dishonest, but will certainly lead to financial deprivation for the ordinary man. Rauff Hakeem has proposed setting up a River Basin Management Authority, on the lines of a similar proposal brought when Ranil Wickremesinghe was last Prime Minister.

Some of the points the proposal addresses require action, but what is worrying is the section under the heading ‘Present cost recovery issues’. There having noted that ‘raw water is free’ the Cabinet Paper goes on to say ‘A revenue generation system needs to be formulated through meaningful and realistic tariff system’.

In short, the consumer, and more especially the farmer, will have to pay for water. Truly, under Ranil’s vision of Good Governance, nothing will be free – except the goodies provided through the donations the increasingly prosperous business community happily provide to the United National Party and its Fronts.

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Latest comments

  • 43
    12

    So you are now an engineer or is it accountant ?

    Shut your incompetent mouth and get lost you loser !

    • 30
      5

      We perfectly know how you managed to do the job at the beginning of the year.

      UGC interview telecasted where you chaired to disgrace the then incumbent UGC chairman was treated as if you thought she was montisori teacher. Sure, it was not acceptable her to be there but weneed to accuse MR of to have done so, not anyone else. You guys just cover the wound without treating it properly. That is the reason to stay chaotic this way. Do your job properly Mr. If you really want to stay in active politics, please practise your patience not jumping like a teenager would behave. Thanks. Academics of the nation will respect you further if you make kind efforts only.

    • 32
      5

      Well said !

      Loser alright. He is a lost cause now that he has got kicked out from the UGC as well.

      Eyeing for a place through the Narional List ? No chance, none will consider you.

      You are an ungrateful, disgraceful and a mean human being ! Go read the book suggested by RW !

      • 18
        3

        I agree with those who say that there’s not much point listening to Professor Rajiva Wijesinha on Road Construction. The author of this, Prof. Amal Kumarage, is the real authority on this subject.

        http://www.sundaytimes.lk/150315/news/the-attempted-great-highway-robbery-140034.html

        The problem with Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha is arrogance, and an unwillingness to understand that there are other human beings who matter. Also, Ranil Wickremasinghe is his FIRST cousin (his mother’s brother’s son) only slightly older than himself. They’ve known each other all of Rajiva’s life. Why can’t these guys discuss this things personally and desist from entangling the whole country in a mess?

        The upshot of all this is that two commenters, “confu tao” and “Wera” end up questioning even the Professorships of Rajiva and G.L. Peiris – both outstanding academics, and respected professors – in their fields.

        However, both have forfeited the respect that people had for them by co-habiting with the Rajapaksas.

        One has to grant that Rajiva has espoused some worthwhile causes, but he puts himself in the Centre. For many years he valiantly battled the corrupt Bishop of Kurunegala, Shantha Francis:

        http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/28460

        The public got to know the real story just at the time of the Presidential Election on January 8th, 2015:

        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/bishop-shantha-francis-and-the-diaspora/

        At that time Prof. Wijesinha seemed at last to be on the side of the angels, but alas, now, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”

        All of which emphasises that we’d better think clearly before we vote!

    • 26
      5

      Get a life Rajiva. Stop running behind power and corrupt politicians.

      True indeed, Arjuna Mahendran in an insider trader who should face criminal charges for financial crime along with his son-in-law and his Perpetual Treasuries firm.
      Mahendran is also not qualified or competent to run the Central Bank. He is a smooth talking crook who should be thrown in jail for cheap white collar crime

      But, Rajiva you are the pot calling the kettle black! Supporting Mahinda Jarapassa the most corrupt criminal ever!

      • 1
        0

        True or false, trustworthy or not, we expect the State to adhere to the ARs and FRs, as it was prior to the 1985s. Like the Late Ronald Reagan said, TRUST, but VERIFY.

    • 5
      25

      Hey Don Quixote. Without telling others to shut up, please tell us what you have done for Sri Lanka? All I hear from people are complaints about the Blue party or the Green part or some other coloured party. But if asked to do something for the country, they will find an excuse and go away. No wonder Sri Lanka is the way it is. Since the people are the ones that vote a government into power, people get a government that they deserve.

    • 13
      1

      Don Quixote:
      No matter how sound your advice is, this lower form of life, a chip off the old block, being the opportunist he is, is incapable of displaying anything resembling self-respect, because it is impossible to display what you lack, totally!

    • 7
      1

      Don Q – “Loser” is right – just check out his record. And his “incompetence” is only exceeded by his hypocrisy and self-interest.

      The guy just doesn’t get it that his views are universally rejected – and for a so-called ‘Liberal’ his actions speak louder than words.

      A bonafide loser indeed!

    • 2
      3

      You don’t have to be an accountant or engineer to be able to understand this mega robbery.. just have common sense and be able toremove the coloured glasses and see…

  • 21
    2

    With all respect to you Mr WEJESINGHE; how would you explain that CN bank had no functional LEGAL DEPT under MR regime ? Even a small company should have a legal dept to react accordingly but CN of a country to leave this way is at all not totally irresponsible ?

    You and your buddy who apparently would never see it right – but there are masses in this country would never want MR to get reelected not attacking him personally but the manner his admin handles even the basic right issues. Today, almost everyone can raise their injustice before police and courts but were this the case under MR regime ? Why you behave as if you genes became moronic ? Not about your politics, but being a scholar you Should be exemplary to the nation … should not you ?

  • 5
    0

    Not academics disgree with Arjuna for sure. But biased ones would do their job as has been sofar.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygrW75hufNc

  • 15
    4

    A has been who lived on the state dime for decades is talking about pilfering. GET A LIFE.

  • 14
    4

    You lost me at ‘After the Central Bank Bond Scam’…yawn..

  • 25
    5

    Where was your tongue when the previous mob was ripping off the place?

  • 23
    5

    This defunct professor is now dabbling in finance which he does not understand and is incapable of understanding. The joker is now trying to impress the public with some stupid comments on contracts which is laughable. The poor bugger is singing for a meal knowing that he has absolutely no future once RW wins this election. Poor Sri Lanka has been burdened with two fools in Rajiva and GL whose claims to professorship are suspect. I feel sorry for the students who had to misfortune of coming in contact with these morons.

  • 8
    27

    This is another big ass scam which seems to be in the same league as Mahendran Aloysious Scheme..

    The latter didn’t matter as far as the Dalits are concerned, because Dalits don’t pay Tax. I mean Income Tax.

    But the former does.

    1. This so called savings are in fact Commissions for the Yahapalalana Politikkas who wear big Elephant and small Elephant T shirts.

    2., this money could have been spent to give the Dalits the proper Science and IT equipment which Batalanada Ranil trimmed from the Mahindoday Vidyalayas after changing the name. .

    Can Rijiv, please publish this in Sinhala so the Dalits know what is going on in Yahapalanaya.

    • 16
      4

      KASmaalam K.A Sumanasekera

      “The latter didn’t matter as far as the Dalits are concerned, because Dalits don’t pay Tax. I mean Income Tax.”

      Since you claim to be the pontiff of the dalit would you now care to apologise to the barber caste? I prefer to call them hair stylists not based on their birth but on their profession.

      However what caste do the long term unemployed and unemployable belong to, I have HLD M, Dayan and you in mind.

      • 2
        10

        Dear Native,

        Barber is the Hair Stylist of the Dalits So what is there to be apologized..

        May be it is different in your part of the planet..

        Hair Stylists do the Elite , And the Barbers cut the Dalits…

        • 4
          2

          KASmaalam K.A Sumanasekera

          You meant Thamilselvan’s caste by birth not by his profession. Had you mentioned his profession, that is first among VP’s b***s carriers, I wouldn’t have objected to it.

          Either you stick to your caste prejudices or stop batting for dalits.

          Well we all know you are a stupid MR’s b***s carrier which is not new nor a problem, however you don’t need to confirm time and again that you are a stupid hypocrite who carries MR’s clanking b***s on your both shoulders.

          Being stupid Sri Lankan saying sorry is the most difficult thing in your life.

    • 9
      4

      Since you want to be Rajiva’s asswipe, why dont you translate and publish wherever you want?

  • 17
    4

    Oh please spare us your nonsense. You are not a professor or any other worthy individual. Your article is nothing but a hatchet job aimed at slinging mud during and election on behalf of your sweet-hart. Even Hitler had a sweet-hart no matter how repulsive his reign was. By the way MCC was your sweet hearts favored unsolicited contractor for this project. So what are you complaining about the price? A tad jealous? Couldn’t get the commission on this one for your guy?

  • 19
    3

    Dr Rajiva Wijesinghe talks not from his mouth as he has joined hands with MR & Co. again. However, his own party is against his actions which he had not sorted out yet. Time is ripe for him to restrict himself only to teaching as if he continues even students will disappear from him.
    All these because Ranil did not give him a cabinet position???

  • 21
    3

    Professori, you hit us with a plethora of YOUR facts and figures. But given your history of being economical with the factual, why should we pay any attention? Anyway, the whole article reads like a job application with the latest object of your affection.

    No doubt someone will report back to Mahasona that you are back in the fold, bleating ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir’; in short, on message.

    In the unlikely event that lightning strikes twice, let us hope that you last longer in your next assignment than you did in your last.

    What book will you be required to read this time?

  • 7
    20

    Thank you Mr.Wijesingha for exposing this mega deal to the public. keep up the good work

  • 9
    2

    After absence from sometime. Your position is your relationship. What has being promised for betrayal. Is it a file. A game of musical chairs.

  • 12
    3

    Prof. Rajiva Wijesingha appears to spend his whole life idol worshipping his betters (which is everybody he knows) and learning nothing. He tried Justice Sarath Silva, then the Rajapakses, then Maithripala Sirisena, then Ranil Wickremasinghe and now back to the Rajapakses.He is the epitome of “Vaasi paththeta hoiya” (Pardon my Sinhalese) and consistently backing the wrong horse every time and doesn’t hear the laughter when he switches allegiances.

  • 11
    3

    Rajiva,

    You have no policy, no skills, no knowledge other than probably English. Do you have a policy on corruption? Do you have a policy on Law & Order? Do you have a policy on Justice? Can you explain why you did not support Mahinda in 2015 election and why you are with him now?

  • 5
    15

    Rajiva is a great patriot who defended Sri Lanka when, after eliminating brutal LTTE , unfair allegations were made against SL by the Western Alliance. My only anger with MR is for letting such great men – Dayan is another- to leave his camp even temporarily.
    Their coming back to support MR is understandable : MR is an infinitely better leader than RW for Sri Lanka and they have realised that.

  • 1
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 8
    5

    Pilfering As A WAY Of Life. You are very correct. We saw it from 2010 to 2014. During that period there were no Cabinet Papers; but it was free for all those connected and close to MR regime. Were you BLIND during that period.

    • 3
      1

      Obviously you were born in 2010 or else you are suffering from amnesia as to what went on during JR, Kanu-kata, CBK/RW periods..

  • 10
    2

    “Pinata Seat” Rajiva, whom are you trying to cheat? What expertise do you have in evaluating the estimates of a road construction? Are you a quantity surveyor or an engineer? I am not sure how strong you are in your mathematical skills.

    You are not even the leader of the Liberal Party. You were kicked out of the Party and you are supporting Rajapakse without the approval of your party. How can you call yourself Liberal? When did you last have the election in the Liberal party to select a leader?

    You are making all these allegations only because you left the Yahapalanaya Govt as they did not offer you a Minister post. You are a “Pinata Seat” person, how can you demand a Minister Post, that too when your party does not support you?

    Same on you!

  • 6
    2

    Rajiva, my good friend,

    your headline should read “Pilfering a seat on the national list is a Way Of Life, for me”

    By the way, how is my other good friend Dayan keeping? What are his predictions of the coming election. Do convey my regards to hm.

    • 2
      1

      I thought his only friend is his shadow.
      From what I head at the begining of the year, this man RW is not at all capable of getting on with anyone. Know all charactor is though valid to Universities but no means to politics.

  • 2
    1

    Rajiva’s only unchanging policy is his opposition to his kinsmen Ranil W.

  • 0
    0

    Rajiva’s [Edited out]

  • 3
    1

    Paul: For your information I was neither born in 2010 nor suffering from amnesia. For your information, I also saw and experienced how those referred by you governed this country. That period was very “Nasty” and unpardonable by any standards. Their period of governing also came within the thirty (3o) years of civil war that ended in 2009. In gratitude I also saw how the people of this country elected Mr.MR as the President of the country. I too extended my “Thank You” (not with any personal gains to get) with the expectation that this country will emerge as a “Reawakened Nation” in the Asian continent. But, Alas!; those expectations went down the drain each day of passing. You know it (though you do not want to admit)and I know it; the country at large know it. Also I know how hard some of the “close ranking associates” of MR tried their best to put him on track; but failed and “Miserably failed” in their attempts. As a last resort he (MR) was told to go through the balance two years and “CORRECT” the situation and undo what and where he has gone terribly wrong. He did not listen and was not at amenable to sound and friendly advice. It was too late (after the defeat in 2015) when he himself admitted and publicly declared he did wrong and mistakes and pledged at this election those will not be repeated and corrected. The way he behaved during those four years (2010 to 2014) I DO NOT TRUST HIM any more. I FEAR his motives; because at that interview with the TV (Hiru) he said, I am prepared to work with Mithri (the President) but I would be the EXECUTIVE PRIME MINISTER. That conveyed the message LOUD AND CLEAR.

  • 1
    0

    Hey guys I agree with your comments. Rajiv, [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    Rajiwa wijesinghe is simply looking for a branch to hang. Some how he wants to be in the parliament. So, jump to this side, next week to the other side, week after again to this side.

    NO ending.

  • 3
    0

    What were you doing all these years when you were adviser to MR and he was looting the country?

  • 0
    0

    “Rajiva is a great patriot who defended Sri Lanka when, after eliminating brutal LTTE”

    Dear Professor Rajiv W.

    Too bad you are not writing in Sinhala forum but on the Minority English forum here, so do not expect to get fair treatment.

    While citizens demand that parlimentarians pass O levels at least, intellectuals such as yourself are dimsissed as valueless. It was the actions of politicians and persons like yourself and the Supreme Court that saved us from making an “Executive Prime Minister” and other abuses masquerading as the 19th amendment. Your services are invaluable and appreciated by millions, 5.8 millions to be exact.

    I would imagine now that there is deep concern among the voting population regarding both major parties.

    At least President Sirisena has kept this election manifesto promise that ‘there wil always be corruption’.

  • 1
    1

    It is sad to note that the media gives extra publicity to Rajiva Wijesinghe who has been hopping from party to party and I am also surprised that the Colombo telegraph too has given him coverage with two articles. he has a regular column in the Ceylon Today and this individual if he speaks so much about democracy blah blah he should contest the Elections. He hasnt the guts to do that because he will be rejected by the masses and he like another professor in his ranks is hiding behind probably hoping to be nominated on the National List

  • 1
    0

    If I was him, I would surely hang myself after reading all these comments. People had a respect for him because his father. Not because of his academic achievements or due to being a three wheel part leader. But enough is enough. He is in a hate position with RW. Why? RW didn’t give him a minister post for him. Now this childish proffessor trying his best to bring back MR to fulfill his personnel agenda. LOL

  • 0
    0

    Dear Dr. Wijesinghe,
    In a very serious note can you pl. comment on the purchase of Greek bonds to the Value of 30 Million Euros and the loss of 11.5 Billion Rupees in the purchase of shares by the EPF funds?
    Would you agree that at least the Rule of Law gas now been established When a Junior Magistrate was able and had the courage to issue summons on the Governor of the Central Bank, Arjuna Mahendran?
    I would await your urgent response.
    Rule of Law

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