31 October, 2020

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The Bubble

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned…”. – Marx and Engles (The Communist Manifesto)

Once upon a nearly-forgotten-time, there was a corporate colossus in America called Enron. Courted by politicians and feted by the Wall Street, Enron was named ‘America’s most innovative company’ by the Fortune magazine for 6 consecutive years.

But Enron’s greatest feat of innovation was also its most closely guarded secret: creative book-keeping. Enron habitually fudged accounts to grossly exaggerate its profits[i]. When the elaborate hoax began unravelling, Enron’s high-flying Chairman, Kenneth Lay[ii] and other top executives bailed out, selling their stocks at huge profits[iii]. Enron’s blue and white collar workers were banned from selling their shares in time; they lost their life savings and pensions in consequence.

The Siblings know that eventually the bubble will burst

The Siblings know that eventually the bubble will burst

The Economist blamed “shoddy accounting, greedy managers and lousy investment decisions…..”[iv], for Enron’s debacle and the subsequent bursting of the American stock market-bubble.

Under Rajapaksa Rule, Sri Lanka is going the Enron-way, as Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake reconfirmed last month.

No sensible government will deliberately undermine the integrity of its national accounts. But familial regimes are no more sensible than neo-liberal corporations. Both types are single-minded in pursuing their private aims; since personal profit/familial power is their raison d’être, they will pursue it at all costs, even to the point of total ruin.

HS Wanasinghe, a statistician with 30 years experience, was the former Director of the National Accounts Division in the Department of Census and Statistics – until he was ejected. In the statement he made at the disciplinary inquiry[v] Mr. Wanasinghe details what happened after he sent the 5.4% estimated growth rate for the first quarter to the Director General: “On June 6th 2013, the Director General called me at around 8.30pm on my mobile phone…. Thereafter he said he had looked at the estimates I sent him (of 5.4%). He wanted me to re-check the Agriculture, Banking, Internal Trade, Electricity, Food and Tobacco Divisions. He said I should be mindful of the interpretations already released by the Treasury and the Central Bank.”[vi]

On June 13th, after extensive discussions with relevant officials, the growth rate was calculated at 5.5%. According to Mr. Wanasinghe, “On June 14th 2013, I presented the national accounts for the first quarter to the Director General by way of an email at 4.53pm. Thereafter I went to my home…because it was the weekend. I was not present at the office on June 17th as I was not well and I informed the Deputy Director General Nigamuni. Half and hour later Ms. Nigamuni called me and told me that the Director General had insisted on the economic growth rate being changed to 6.0%”[vii]. The Deputy DG wanted an immediate change from 5.5% to 6%, “because the Director General was insisting on it being done”.

Under Familial Rule, the state moves to the Rajapaksa-tune. The Siblings must have superlative growth to substantiate their counter-factual claims about development miracles. So the politicised Central Bank must get the Department of Census and Statistics to supply suitable figures.

The first warning about the Rajapaksa predilection to conjure happy statistics came from the Auditor General. In his 2006 report to parliament, the AG stated that tax and export income statistics of the government are misleading. The Finance Ministry, instead of taking remedial measures, took the AG to task: “Sri Lanka’s Finance Ministry has disputed a report by the auditor-general that weak collections led to a revenue loss of 360 billion rupees…. It also rejected the auditor-general’s assessment of 22 billion rupees in tax arrears, saying that the figure needs to be ‘revisited’….[viii].

In a similar vein, Ajith Nivard Cabraal (accountant cum failed politicians turned Central Bank Governor – another Rajapaksa first) dismissed Mr. Wanasnghe’s statement about fudged growth figures and “warned detractors not to go to the extent of undermining the entire data gathering process to meet their own ends….” Pressed to comment on Mr. Wanasinghe’s allegations, Mr. Cabraal said that “he personally looked into the case and found no reason to doubt data from the department.” He claimed it was “an isolated incident and a response has already been filed by the Census and Statistics Department.” [ix]

In other words nothing will be done. Since Rajapaksa justice is as compromised as Rajapaksa statistics, Mr. Wanasinghe will lose his fundamental rights case. His fate will serve as an example to his colleagues; silence will fall, until, someday, the financial dam breaks.

Enron Way

In February 1987, two officers from Enron’s internal-audit department presented Chairman Kenneth Lay with evidence that “two of his underlings had cheated his company”[x]. The auditors did not know that fraudulence was Enron’s ethos, fudging books was literally a company policy and Chairman Lay was both a perpetrator and a beneficiary[xi].

In Sri Lanka too no remedial measures will follow Mr. Wanasinghe’s revelations just as no remedial measures followed the AG’s warnings because books are being cooked to make reality confirm with Rajapaksa developmental boasts (Just as the crass lie about zero-civilian casualties was maintained for years to buttress the ‘Humanitarian Operation’ myth).

In 2007, the Supreme Court faulted the Rajapaksa government for excluding Rs.  722billion in debt service payments in the budget and for misusing funds earmarked for development: “….nearly Rs 21billion have been transferred by the Treasury officials … The transfers reveal that that many of them have been for foreign travel, purchase of vehicles and other miscellaneous items of expenditure far removed from ‘Development Activities’”[xii]. In 2012, the Auditor General warned about serious accounting deficiencies and management inefficiencies in the EPF: “The AG had found that more than Rs. 62million recovered during the period 2005-2008 as EPF members’ contributions and surcharges recovered by courts had been credited to the government revenue in 2010 without being credited to the members’ personal accounts”[xiii].

The Rajapaksas will continue their financially homicidal-suicidal way by imposing more burdens on people and incurring new debt. Prices of essentials are set to rise steeply this year, due to tax increases in the 2014 Budget. Inflation, of course, will remain stable or perhaps even decrease.

Already Sri Lanka’s debt is at Rs. 5.63trillion. The regime is planning to raise US$ 1000million from sovereign bonds with a 10 year maturity period. So far 5 such bonds have been issued totalling US$ 4000million; the first bond of US$ 500million was paid in 2013 by issuing a new bond for US$ 1,000million; the next bond is to mature in 2015.

In 2013, the total cost of debt servicing was US$ 1,500million (Rs. 1070billion).[xiv]

In 2004, the US government began prosecuting Chairman Lay and other top Enron executives[xv].

So long as the Rajapaksas rule, the frauds perpetrated on their orders/in their interests will go unpunished. As the financial/economic conditions turn increasingly sour, and the development-con begins to unravel even faster, more frauds will have to be perpetrated to fool the populace. Until someday, objective realities reassert themselves with overwhelming destructive force.

The Siblings know that eventually the bubble will burst. That is why they are strengthening and Rajapaksaising the military. If Sinhala-Buddhists cannot be hoodwinked into attacking the minorities, the military can be ordered to shoot Sinhala-Buddhists.


[i] Enron overstated its profit by US$ 600 million in 2000, the year before it collapsed.

[ii] A close friend of the Bush family and a major donor to the Republican Party; President George W Bush reportedly wrote notes and cards to his friend, ‘Kenny Boy’.

[iii] Mr. Lay made US $ 37,683,887; he and others were successfully prosecuted subsequently.

[iv] The Economist – 22.6.2002

[v] This statement was subsequently included in his Fundamental Rights petition and was read out in parliament by MP Dissanayake during the recently concluded budget debate.

[vii] Daily Mirror – 24.12.2013

[viii] LBO – 6.6.2007 – emphasis mine

[ix] Financial Times – 3.1.2014

[x] Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story – Kurt Eichenwald

[xiii] The Sunday Times – 15.7.2012

[xiv] Daily Mirror – 20.12.2013

[xv] Mr. Lay was convicted of six counts of fraud and conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud, but died before he could be sentenced. Several of his colleagues are serving jail terms.

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Latest comments

  • 21
    1

    The Jarapassa bubble is busting!

    • 14
      0

      Enron CEO was tried in court and sentenced for long term.
      Later he committed suicide.

      In sri Lanka if you are loyal to MaRa all honky dory.
      Even you murder in daylight MaRa will make sure you are safe.

      This is miracle of Asia….

      • 10
        0

        I think you are aboslutely correct here

        “Enron CEO was tried in court and sentenced for long term. Later he committed suicide”

        Do you think it would be the same with lanken counterparts (Director general that manipulated data as evidently proved in the article) in the days to come ?

        “In sri Lanka if you are loyal to MaRa all honky dory. Even you murder in daylight MaRa will make sure you are safe”

        Examples from recent incidents

        a) Baratha Murder – broad daylight murder plotted by Rajapkse by using Duminda De Silva (Rapist, Multi murderer criminal, but later turn politian and family confidiant to Rajapakshe)

        Today – he is still in active politics, proving falshe medical records to the entire general public; abusing govt funds for his unaffordable hospitalizations in Spore.

        b) Mervin was instrumental in killing Waragoda MP. But nothing like fair verdicts were given to the key accused (Mervin and his secretary)

        Today – Mervin is still in active politics: is rich enough to purchase lamboginis by exorted funds from the Kelaniya area business people

  • 15
    1

    Thanks Thisaranee many, many thanks for another brilliant piece. I do hope that your work is being translated so that the Sinhalaya Modayas who believe the Jarapassa spin can educate themselves before it is too late.. but perhaps it is already too late!
    We need to ensure that the Jarapassa family is held ACCOUNTABLE for their FINANCIAL and ECONOMIC CRIMES in addition to the War crimes…

  • 14
    3

    Excellent and Hats off to you Madam T!

    Dr. Harsha the UNP economist should get his party which is supposed to be the OPPOSITION to file a case against Ajit Nivard Cabraal for cooking the books, fraud and malfeascance. Cabraal must be tried in open court for economic crimes and fraud including misappropriation of EPF and ETF funds. People would then see how the Jarapaksa regime steal from the working poor to subsidize the Casino operator cronies via the stock market..

    The reason that Rajapakse and his corrupt cronies get away with so much is that the UNP members do nothing but PRAT on in the Parliament of Morons – which does not change anything! What a curse Ranil Wickramasinghe the UNP dictator and the Moron Sajith and the so-called UNP opposition is!

    • 10
      1

      Dude the exceptional fool,

      You hothambuwa is beating around the bush without realizing the facts after reading TG’s excellent post. This regime cannot be liquidated by filing cases for your typed donkeys keep voting them in. What will make donkeys like you realize the ultimate fact is to allow the entire donkey populace of the country to collapse and perish with the Rajapaksha traitors whom these donkeys have propped up so long. It is unfortunate that seeing these stark realities and facts still buffaloes like you keep emerging in these forums.

      • 1
        4

        You should be number one pingona not to have got the point that Dude s been making. You attack him “This regime cannot be liquidated by filing cases for your typed donkeys keep voting them in.”.
        Read it again and add you two cents worth. I really dont know why guys of your kind exist on these forums.

      • 7
        0

        Silva,

        People like Dude believe that Ranil can just oust MR, just like that. So the fault is not MR’s but Ranil’s. Why are the people not aware from the time this Bugger MR was accused of embezzling Tsunami Funds, where Ranil asked MR to go to Courts and clear his name as Ranil did when he was accused of robbing Computers? People like Dude voted MR then to elect him as President, a Tsunami Fund Embezzler. Having voted the Scum Bag MR, now they are blaming Ranil. When will these critics of Ranil understand that Ranil cannot vote himself President, unless they vote him in.

        As for Nivard Cabral he is the chosen man of the Americans who headed the Pyramid Scam. Whether MR likes or not, Nivard Cabral will remain the Governor of Central Bank. The losses Nivard makes for Sri Lanka like Greek Bonds or allowing the Rajapaksas to bank their loot in foreign banks is to their benefit.

  • 11
    2

    There are several bubbles waiting to burst on the MaRa regime in the near future: Humanitarian Operation Fraud, genocide of Tamils, Economic Bubble and development with the masses remaining poor, and the Miracle of Asia.

    When these bubbles burst there will be big explosion for the MaRa regime and his murderous armed forces and police, and the Sri Lankan State itself will fall like Humty Dumpty with a bid thud.

    • 2
      10

      when will this happen? dream on doomsday soothsayers

      • 8
        0

        Sooner or later, but sooner the better for all!

      • 8
        3

        Anura Mendis,

        Have you drunk a gallon of old “Mendis Special”? It is fucked up bastards like you who are licking and sniffing the unwashed assholes of Rafukshas and writing stupid lies on public forums. Go and dig your grave for by April next year MARA’s days would be counted.

      • 6
        0

        Anus Mendis or who ever B….d you are;

        Is That So Tasty, what you Suck???.
        By the way where is that Writer called Ivan.
        Is he writing his new book “CHAWURA FAMILY”. [ Looting Family]???.

        • 0
          0

          No Ivan is busy sucking up!

  • 2
    0

    Enron was NOT a one-off. There are and were other companies that do and did follow on the same footsteps. Young Enron employees, ‘traders’, were intent on ‘robbing their grandmothers’ in order to enhance their own bonuses. They did succeed for a time. In recent years we have seen similar behaviour from our revered ‘bankers’ who brought the world economies to their knees.

  • 4
    0

    Exceptional skills in revealing exceptional robberies!

  • 4
    0

    T.G,
    All I have got to say is ‘Long live Ranil Wickremesinghe’ :)

  • 4
    0

    None have the backbone to revolt against these lies.

  • 5
    0

    This shocking expose by T.G needs the attention of all our lawmakers.
    But those on the government side who are the 2/3 majority & who blindly back all proposals by the MR government,couldnt care less.
    The opposition are busy fighting among themselves to take note/action.
    Those who already know have their assets abroad,I am sure – including the MR family.

  • 4
    0

    When the “BUBBLE” bursts, “WHO” will emerge to be called “Mr OR MS CLEAN”?

    Don’t you think it is our “QUEST”? and do we have any “CLUE”?

  • 3
    0

    Yes. Yes. Shoot them all. Then we will have a sensible country.

  • 2
    0

    TG@, thanks very much for yet another valuable article:). Entire world will now realize how brutal Rajaspkehs have become.

    Having watched a youtube video (Balaya : Kirialla, Tilni Silva, Ranawaka one another from Rulers´s coalition) lately, I felt – these rumours on the manipulative numbers could be just lies. But reading your valuble piece I now feel they indeed have changed them. These are born criminals.. repeating that IMF or anyothers would not issue them loans, if growth rates were not considered as improved.

    Quoted from the article perse:

    “On June 13th, after extensive discussions with relevant officials, the growth rate was calculated at 5.5%. According to Mr. Wanasinghe, “On June 14th 2013, I presented the national accounts for the first quarter to the Director General by way of an email at 4.53pm. Thereafter I went to my home…because it was the weekend. I was not present at the office on June 17th as I was not well and I informed the Deputy Director General Nigamuni. Half and hour later Ms. Nigamuni called me and told me that the Director General had insisted on the economic growth rate being changed to 6.0%”[vii]. The Deputy DG wanted an immediate change from 5.5% to 6%, “because the Director General was insisting on it being done”

    Now the locals and ICs will see the truth about the statistics. Malinda S had brought these numbers telling totally some other stories. His article tried to mitigate the fraud as agreed upon with his authorities.
    Right thinking lanken folks will all respect your valuble articles. Well done.

    • 2
      0

      But the problem will remain further,

      even if you and the few would reveal all these, lanken folks would not stay stick to their agenda. They are born stupid folks to ignore these facts and figures by this day. I think IQ of the average should be very low to vote these idiot in to power again anda gain.

  • 0
    4

    .
    Shocking, but in the name of sovereignity we have to support MaRa regime (thanks D J).

    :-)

  • 0
    4

    “Sinhala Buddhists can not be provoked to attack Minorities”….says Ms T..

    Have the NGOs, Fringe Christian Groups, Norwegian Solly and his Western buddies done their Dough?..

    Will Ms T focus only on Bookkeeping and Auditing here on, instead of Sinhala Buddhist Bashing?…

    It she does , even our Sinhala Buddhists might lend an ear, although they wouldn’t know Enron from a bar of soap….

    • 2
      0

      KAS – You forgot to add the “IF’ in Tisaranee’s statement in your rush to misquote her. Anyway, do you have anything worthwhile to comment about the facts she has stated instead of the usual irrelevant bullshit?

      And while you’re at it, pass on the message to your alter-egos Softy, Fat Fuk, Leela, et al that all the irrelevance and abuse they heap on critics of the administration is getting to be a pain in the ass and adds nothing to any sane discussion on the topics in question.

  • 0
    6

    Ms. TG, both Muslims and Christians are the children the same brothers and they are all relatives.

    Christians as well as Muslims, both, believe in the Creator and the Ultimate god.

    Yet, muslim religeous places are being attacked in Britain as they are some unwanted,

    what is your point of view, as an anglican, on that ?

    • 4
      1

      Jim Softy,
      You be careful about what you say… I noticed you saying lot of lies. God Buddha is watching, he is more stricter than Muslim creator gods, and you may end up in APAYA, LoDiya Haliye for lying…
      Anura

  • 0
    4

    Why don’t you write the Corruption in the west. that is in billions of dollars.

    their destruction of the world, their destruction of the environment why you are silent and

    just target sinhala buddhists and Two rajapakses ?

  • 0
    5

    communism and Capitalism – both revered by the west.

    Communist theory neglected the middle class. Capitalist theory exploit the middle class.

    Now the american Capitalism is losing Chinese – capitalism.

    there is onahter version of Capitalism is emerging else where in the world. Let us wait and see.

  • 3
    0

    thank you, i wish sinhala Buddhists have the capacity to think and reflect, alas, not!! thats exactly what happens when you are afflicted by a mental condition of nationalism, a serious mass mental illness,, very hard to treat!!

  • 5
    0

    Jim Softy, Why should we talk about western crimes? We should talk about crimes against us.

  • 1
    5

    Unfortunately the unbiased reader know that the author, Tisaranee, is ALWAYS anti-Rajapaksa and has never mentioned anything positive about the Rajapaksa government. Therefore, it is not possible to believe anything much in this article except to say, readers, make your own inquiries and be unbiased yourself.

    • 2
      0

      Jay Chambers

      “Unfortunately the unbiased reader know that the author, Tisaranee, is ALWAYS anti-Rajapaksa”

      We need more of them. Why don’t you try yourself at least for a day? Its good fun being anti-Rajapaksa.

      “has never mentioned anything positive about has never mentioned anything positive about the Rajapaksa government. .”

      Is there anything positive about has never mentioned anything positive about the Rajapaksa government?

      Please list them.

      • 2
        0

        Jay Chambers

        Penultimate line should read:

        Is there anything positive about the Rajapaksa government?

        Please list them.

  • 1
    5

    Tisaranee Gunasekara,
    Could you please do me a favour, and not start off your articles with a quotation – especially not one from Marx or Engels, false prophets from a forgotten era? Leave the quotations to Dayan. He cannot write without reference to Marx or Fidel or Mao. Drop the quotations. Let us see whether you are not capable of some original thinking. You know, you need to show us, the readers, some courtesy and respect.

  • 2
    0

    Tisaranee:

    Just to give you an Idea of the enormity of the problem facing the Nation and the Future Generation here is what you have missed out. But there is a silver lining at the end.

    By December 31, 2000, Enron’s stock was priced at $83.13 and its market capitalization exceeded $60 billion, 70 times earnings and six times book value, an indication of the stock market’s high expectations about its future prospect.

    BUT

    Enron’s shareholders lost $74 billion in the four years before the company’s bankruptcy ($40 to $45 billion was attributed to fraud).[158] As Enron had nearly $67 billion that it owed creditors, employees and shareholders received limited, if any, assistance aside from severance from Enron. To pay its creditors, Enron held auctions to sell assets including art, photographs, logo signs, and its pipelines.

    Compared to Enron and according to one reliable estimate MR has borrowed 8 Trillion Rupees from the Loan Shark China which works out to about 670 Billion Dollars which is just the Capitol and the interest over the years will run in to Trillions.
    This sum of money is just to build Harbours , Roads and no doubt the ” White House which Gotha Owns in the heart of the city and nothing else which can earn a Return to service the Loan .

    But this burden will be borne by the subjects who have a lot of adulation for the King Mahintha.

    But the silver lining is that when the Country Defaults on payments China will be the looser as China will not be able to send warships to recover the loss. The Loan is underwritten by Indias Security which prevents China from sending Warships to recover which in the end China will have to write off as Bad Debt.

  • 2
    0

    I should have added that when Sri Lanka defaults on payment to China , China will pull the Plug and with Sri Lankas Credit rating in Shambles no country will come to her rescue. This will present India with the Golden Opportunity to bring Sri Lanka under her total control by default. What a Prospect MR has would have presented the Country with.

  • 0
    4

    Whats new? Bashing buddhists, critisizing the current government, genocide, singhala buddhist rights, the war, economy, the army, monks………blah blah blah……everything and anything under the sun……..same old same old. YAWN !
    This miserable woman has been predicting losses in war, punishment against ficticious crimes against humanity, being thrown out of power especially when SF contested the elections, singhalese buddhists starving to death , country becomming a waste land…..and pretty much everything bad to happen to our country.
    But one thing i noticed new today was she called the rajapaksa’s a traitor. WOW…..seriously woman, are you that retarded and disgusted with you life with that murderous tamil LTTE hubby of yours?!

    This woman is mad. Perhaps disappointed that none of her halaucinations came true. China sending war ships to collect debt…..for the love of god….are you that immature?

    FOR ALL YOU UNGRATEFUL SOBS……REMEMBER THIS, ATLEAST NOW WE ARE FREE TO WALK ANYWHERE IN OUR MOTHERLAND WITHOUT BEING BLOWN TO BITS BY THOSE TAMIL TERRORISTS!!!

    Filling your pie holes and your wallets aint the only thing a nation should do or could do. But then again i guess only the true sons of the soil could understand that!

    Shame on you.

    • 3
      1

      Senaratne you fool,

      You may feel free to walk. But there are millions of Tamils who are not free to walk the Street. There are thousands of Sinhalse dont feel free to walk: For example Dr.Shirani , the Decorated Four Star General SF and many others. Only the Crimninals are free to Walk and I dont know if you are one. You must be.

  • 0
    3

    This woman is mad. Perhaps disappointed that none of her halaucinations came true. China sending war ships to collect debt…..for the love of god….are you that immature? ………to publish comments from idiots like kali or whatever his face is!

    His reliable estimate must be from his great grand mother.

    • 0
      0

      [Edited out]

  • 5
    0

    Senaratne you idiot.

    MR thrives on the support from people like you and he is looting the Country and has pawned it to the Chinese. All that matters to you is the undying love for MR and his Cronies and you cannot take any Constructive Criticsm. You dont have to take it from me because I am Tamil but Tisaranee is a fellow Sinhalse and she has the Nations interest at heart and what gives you more right than her. You cannot see where the Country is heading and if you live beyond your means Bankruptcy is the Choice.
    The only source of revenue Sri Lanka has is from exporting Tea and for your information India has openly threatened to break the Monopoly Sri Lanka has in the Russian Market.
    Have you ever thought about how you are going to repay the Loan. Mate you are living on Credit Card.

  • 2
    0

    There is LIES, DAMNED LIES, and then GOSL STATISTICS. Then we have our own Ken Lay aka Ajith Nivala Cabraal, fully qualified member of the Institute of Creative Accounting, who spectacularly failed to bring Mahinda and motherlanka the Commonwealth Games in spite of a major ‘pin-addy’ tamasha in the salubrious West Indies. Is it beyond him to mastermind our own SLankan Cock-up of Cock-ups?

  • 2
    2

    Dooms day predictors said the LTTE is invincible. That India ere long would send in troops to tkae over.Did they happen?

    Infra structure, roads, ports, IT literacy along with many otheres all being improved providing the basic requirements for economic development in a manner and to a degree that never happened before in Sri Lanka’s post independance history.

    Stacked up agains these goals and achievements ( portrayed as a buble) with a view to undermining SL through misinformation, and national and international conspiracy are the Tiger Diaspora unhappy with their defeat in war and still entertaining their romantic notions of elam , the political opposition unhappy with being a permenant opposition and international forces unhappy with Sri Lanka’s increasing political and economic independance. These orces have united to connive & destroy the Rajapakse regime , but for diferent reasons & destroying with it Sri Labnka, which somwe of these would like to happen and others dont but choose it as the lesser evil than seeing the Rajapakse’s of the rural south dominating SL

    Certinly, till these investments bear fruit international help especially from the well disposed to SL like the Chinese and Russians would be necessarry.Thankfully, there interests are better served with a strong and independent SL than a weak SL in disarray. Hence , the likelihood of thei on going support. Especially, these do not have track record of colonialism or economically and politically driven neo colonialism

    What is needed is genuine and constructive criticism. When criticism is incessant and distructive even constructive criticism looses currency

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