19 September, 2020

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Trying To Fool All The People All The Time

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament held its national awards ceremony at the Parliament complex last Tuesday. It was presided over by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Evaluation of information gathered from 842 state institutions has resulted in the categorization of their performance into several categories. 81 or less than 10% received ‘highly performing’ ranking.

The news bulletin broadcast by Ada Derana included sections of the presidential and prime ministerial speeches.

The Prime Minister stated, “The President knows what has happened to SriLankan Airlines. Planes have been purchased on huge loans. We cannot easily settle those. The loan amount is USD 740 million. I cannot even tell you as to which one we should pay, during 2018 and 2019 now. The previous government did not even have a proper finance management. However, I would like to say one thing. We should not pass this loan amount to the next generation, and we should pay for the sins we committed.”

The President stated, “it will take time to uproot bribery and corruption from society. These things cannot be corrected in a month or two. The projects run by them have both positive and negative effects”. President Sirisena highlighted an example of funds passed for a three-storied building in a school in Polonnaruwa. The school currently has only two floors even though financial allocations have been exhausted. No action has been taken against those responsible to-date.

The President suggested a separate event for the state institutions which were at the bottom of the list, an explicit reference to the ‘hardly performing’ category!

It would appear, both our President and Prime Minister have taken the entire population of the country of being fools.

It is a given, the deal entered into by the Rajapaksa administration with Airbus Industries at the cost of USD 740 million was enmeshed in corruption. That said, the yahapalanaya government wasted more than a year in canceling the first four of eight aircraft ordered. The second four are still in the order books of the manufacturers. The fact is, the longer the delay of cancellation, the higher will be cancellation charges when eventually canceled. The report by Weliamuna BoI on SriLankan Airlines, prepared at the cost of over Rs 3 million is gathering mothballs. Meanwhile, mismanagement of the national carrier continues. Lease agreements of two unwanted Airbus A330-200 aircraft recently extended for three years cost the airline over USD 24 million. Attempts by some board members to hold the official responsible accountable went awry due to a sub-committee appointed by the Prime Minister concluding no error in extending the lease agreements. The two-unwanted aircraft are currently severely underutilized. By such actions, the yahapalanaya debt burden will further increase the Rajapaksa debt burden. As for Finance management of this government, the less said, the better. The bond scam took place at the Central Bank under the Prime Minister’s watch. The findings of the three UNP party lawyers appointed to investigate the scam, to say the least, leaves much to be desired. Their detections were so ‘thorough,’ the then Finance Minister’s directive to three Chairmen of state banks to underbid at the bond auctions, paving the way for the windfall received by a private primary dealer was not in their report.     

No one expected or expects the uprooting of corruption in a “month or two” as observed by the President. However, many expected the prosecution of at least some of the most corrupt (and criminal) individuals of the Rajapaksa regime. In less than two months, the President will complete three years in office. He has passed the mid-point of his term of office. Barring those convicted in the ‘Sil Redi’ case, investigations of many other wrongdoers are in limbo. The Lasantha Wickrematunge, Thajudeen, and Eknaligoda murder cases remain unsolved. 

Meanwhile, what is happening in the country indicate no signs of corruption and waste of being contained, let alone eradicated. 

As requested vide cabinet paper cabinet paper no: 16/ 0309/ 702/ 010 submitted by the Prime Minister, approval was granted by the cabinet of ministers to lease a building at 288, Sri Jayawardenapura Mawatha, Rajagiriya to house the Ministry of Agriculture at the cost of Rs 21 million per month. It also required a down payment of rent for two years amounting to Rs 504 million. The government valuer’s valuation for the same building amounts to Rs.13.5 million a month. On April 7 this year, Committee of Public Accounts (COPA) informed Secretary to Agriculture Ministry of its inability to approve the leasing of the proposed building without following government procurement guidelines. Nevertheless, the building’s owner DP Jayasinghe Tours & Transport and Secretary Agriculture signed the lease agreement on April 08, 2016. The need to relocate Agriculture Ministry from Govijana Mandiraya to free space for parliament was supposedly a prime ministerial initiative. According to sources, despite payment of rent, the Agriculture Ministry is yet to relocate to the leased building.

Meanwhile, sixteen floors of office space at the newly built and government-owned Suhurupaya building in Battaramulla remain unoccupied.         

The President who chairs cabinet meetings was a party to the cabinet approval granted to the Prime Minister’s cabinet paper to relocate the Agriculture Ministry. 

These are but samples of a mountain of misdeeds of yahapalanaya government currently in the public domain. It is clear proof; this regime is no more sincere than the former in eradicating corruption and waste.

It is obvious, neither of these two leaders has read Abraham Lincoln who once said: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    Sri lanka has become a grand joke. Ranil wicramasinghe’s MA/MSc should be from non-accreditted institutions. If it is from Sri lanka, that is another special case, as I heard, parents offered post graduates degrees to children. PhD is honorary. In actuality, I hears, he completed only the grade ELEVAN. Amazing things we here. IT is dumb thieves running rounds and rounds without knowing what to do. anyway, it is not their money. So, who cares, that is what they think.

  • 2
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    I also believe, that PResident is part of the game. they are using corruption investigations as political tools. Other than that, they do not have any plans to run the govt. It is simply a mess. It is the politicians who discuss contract tenders over the phone. Amazing world.

  • 2
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    It appears that only one alleged murderer ( Sivanesa Durai) has been under remand for over two years. Why the reluctance with regard to others..Speeches on platforms and doing just the opposite is not going to solve the problem.

  • 0
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    Why not Sri Lanka hire people from smaller nations like Singapore, Mauritius, Seychelles….. most of them not far geographically to teach Sri Lankans how to manage and run the country responsibly. A disgrace to hear once a country was looked upon as more successful than the said countries being looted by thieves and brought to its knees.
    The Sri Lankans to be blamed and not anyone else externally. The country has been sold to China and India and they are reaping the rewards on the back of the innocent Sri Lankans.
    The communal tension and corruption exist to the core brought Sri Lanka to the worst current situation. Adopt one common language in Schools and Govt., punish all communalists and corrupts and educate our younger generation to build our country without hatred and corruption, work hard to bring families and the country in a healthy way. I was a born Sri Lanka with Indian Origin. My heart bleeds when I hear very bad and sad news about my country of birth.

  • 2
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    Just look at the statement of the PM of this country. “The US$ 740 million loss on account of SriLankan Airline has to be paid, without passing it to a future generation. I don’t know which one of it 2017 or 2018” . Does that depict the calibre and competency level of a PM of a country? What would be the opinion of the people of this country and world at large of a PM and the country that he governs? With enough of evidence to go by, PM has been told how this colossal loss has taken place by a Committee that investigated into the affairs of this airline. That report viz the “Weliamuna Report” has been put into his “closet” and has that “courage” to say that the loss has to be paid; that also not either with his money or the PERPETRATORS; but by the PEOPLE who had nothing to do with the “Management” of the venture? He knows and had been told HOW and WHO, “Planned” and “executed” the ROBBERY. Why can’t he, the PM tell and assure that the “PERPETRATORS” would be chased after and the loss would be recovered from all of those them? Or, is he giving another “SIGNAL” in advance to any future leader as to how to deal with the “Planned” and “Executed” robbery of the Central Bank through the “Bond Issue”? What a life of a “40 Years” experienced legislator? Do we need to go any further or take time to say “GOOD BYE” to this PM?

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