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Good governance ruined by Ravi! Petition against E- Passport tender!

A Fundamental rights petition has been filed in the Supreme court against the handing over of the new e-passport supply contract to M/S De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd.

 Misled the Cabinet

 The petition has been filed by several local companies who claimed that the cabinet has been misled to give permission for the contract to be handed over to M/S De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd.

 40 percent shares

 According to information received by ISIS news the cabinet paper presented to hand over the contract to M/S De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd had mentioned a tender process is not needed as the 40 percent of the company's shares are owned by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka making it a state-affiliated company.

 However, according to the petitioners in spite of 40 percent of the shares being owned by the state De La Rue cannot be identified as a state-affiliated company. Petitioners have also claimed that to be a state-affiliated company the state should obtain either 50 percent or more shares of the business.

 Same Company but two definitions

To prove this premise the petitioners have pointed out that previously a supply contract to provide safety stickers for bottles of alcohol was not handed over to M/S De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd and instead given to an Indian company identified as Madras security printers without the consideration of the basis that De La Rue is a state-affiliated company.

They also expressed their confusion as to how the same company can be identified as state-affiliated during one deal but the fact ignored in a different deal.

The group had also questioned the transparency of the government's tender process and is harmful to the government's good name they said.

Further information received M/S De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd is said to be a British firm with the Central Bank being one of its shareholders. The company has also been enjoying the monopoly of printing currency in Sri Lanka for which tenders are not usually called.

While claiming the company pays salaries of 200 local staff and 40 percent owned by the Sri Lankan government, the company is said to rarely bid for tenders for supply contracts.

Losses despite shares

The company is also said to not have the opportunity to claim the winning bid with its bid is generally high. According to reports, the company had lost a bid to supply Rs. 1, 2, 5, and 10 coins due to this reason.

On investigation market sources said M/S De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd has not paid a significant amount for shares owned by the government with the company only paying in around 0.9 percent of its total revenue to the government.

These sources claimed the government also may have to pay higher prices for the supply of currency and e-passports in the future as a result.

Information revealed by us previously

The information revealed by isis.lk previously can be found by going to the link below.

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While the responsibility in issuing the passport lies with the Department of Immigration and Emigrations the subject comes under the Ministry of Internal affairs.

Ravi’s interference

However despite this the cabinet papers have been presented by Minister of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure, Harin Fernando.When investigations were made it was revealed that while initial steps to obtain the passports were made with the joint efforts of the Ministries of Internal affairs and Telecommunication however later former Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake had overtaken the responsibility at the time.

Ravi behind every blunder

While there appears to be no fair reason as to why a Minister of Finance would get involved in a subject area not related to him, the involvement could have been justified if the government cost could have been reduced as a result.

The major issue of this involvement is that the project launched to create a new passport and to issue it was rejected with him handing over the project to De La Rue through the ICTA.

Presidential observations shown the door

While a similar proposal to hand over the tender to the same company was submitted at a previous occasion, presenting his observations on the project President Maithripala Sirisena had suggested that it is better to grant the tender after a competitive bidding process than grant it to a single supplier while the cabinet had proposed to go for a ‘swiss challenge’ system.

However, according to reports M/S De La Rue Lanka Currency and Security Print Ltd had expressed their displeasure at this recommendation

While the government is said to be spending Rs. 1.2 Billion by granting the tender to De La Rue the petitioners have claimed they could do it for less according to international standards. Meanwhile the Government Printers have said they are also able to provide these required passports at only an expenditure of Rs. 600 Million.

Accordingly it is fair to assume that good governance policies have been violated through this deal. While opportunity remains to correct the issue it is of utmost importance that the President, Prime Minister and the government should focus its attention in this regard now.

 

 

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Swarnavahini to go to Singapore firm for $ 60 Million

The local television channel, Swarnavahini is set to be sold to Singapore registered Straits Grid Pte. Ltd insider sources have revealed.

According to reports, the owner of Singapore firm is said to be Malaysian business magnet Sudhir.

However, Sri Lankan Police investigations are ongoing about the businessman as he was linked to various incidents during the former governments rule.

Reports state that Straits Grid Pte. Ltd has proposed to purchase various business operating under ETI Finance including the film company, hotel business, Swarnavahini Networks, Swarnamahal Jewellers and Swarnamahal Finance for $ 60 Million. Accordingly, the Central Bank has also agreed for this deal to go ahead sources said.

Political Influence?

Insiders have however expressed their suspicions that the sale is due to the untoward influence of a political nature.

While several Sri Lankan companies had made higher offers to purchase the businesses however the refusal to do so may go on to prove this premise.

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Tabs for A’ls Students: Ministry of Education's latest tender fraud revealed

Ministry of Education is said to preparing itself to commit yet another fraud through the project to distribute tablet computers to Advanced level students.

According to sources, the Ministry is now attempting to reverse the decision made to hand over the tender to Metropolitan Group of Companies. This tender was riddled with irregularities and while a decision has been made to halt it, sources say a decision has now been made to hand over this tender to the Abans group.

Old Scam

The President of the TEC committee appointed for the tender along with officials of the Ministry had handed over the tender to Metropolitan after making changes to the tender conditions thereby committing a series of irregularities.

Latest Scam

According to information revealed a similar fraud has been committed when handing over the tender to Abans group as well by considering that Abans was the lowest bidder for the tender.

Cabinet papers to approve this tender hand over is not being prepared by the Ministry of Education according to reliable sources. While Abans had in fact submitted the lower bid of Rs. 4.1 Billion, however, the issues lies with the Tab not complying with the tender specifications.

Tender conditions violated

According to tender specifications, the Tab should be in use within the country for the past five years. However, the Haier branded tab presented by Abans has not completed this stipulated time frame. According to sources, Haier branded tab computers were first imported to the country in 2015.

Therefore the Ministry appears to be attempting a scam by labelling Abans as the ‘lowest bidder’ despite their product not adhering to tender specifications. While tender specifications are prescribed for a purpose the Ministry officials should note that these specifications are important as the lowest pricing as well.

Meanwhile, the Ministry’s responsibility is to hand over the tender to the lowest bidder whose product falls within the tender specifications. However, disregarding if such a supplier exists and handing over the tender in this manner brings about doubts as to if the Ministry officials have received any monetary inducement to go ahead with the chosen supplier.

While it is unconscionable to commit yet another fraud in an attempt to correct one that was almost committed it is now up to Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam to prove these revelations are false to prevent yet another tender corruption to tarnish the image of the government.

Therefore these revelations have been made to prevent this scam from going ahead.

 

 

 

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Lokuwithana purchases Namal's 'Gower Building' for Rs. 400 Million

A luxury building located on Gower Street, Colombo 5 believed to be owned by MP Namal Rajapaksa has now been sold to prominent local businessman Nandana Jayadeva Lokuwithana. While much controversy surrounded on the ownership of the building, media reports claimed it belonged to MP Namal Rajapaksa. Interestingly the new owner of the building, Lokuwithana featured in the leaked 'Panama Papers' that revealed financial information of the worlds rich including frauds and tax evasion.

The agreements relating to the building mentions popular businessman Nimal Perera as the owner while the deeds mention it was purchased for Rs. 400 Million on July 2, 2017. This deed has been certified by a Notary by the name of W.C.S Wijewardena.

House owned by Wickramasinghe's

According to documents the initial owner of the building was named as Ishanka Wickramasinghe, a resident of No. 17/3, the 5th lane. The land along with the house had then been sold to Nimal Perera for Rs. 175 Million on August 10, 2011, according to the deed.

Despite the land amounting to 37.22 perches had been purchased under the name of Perera however media had reported MP Namal Rajapaksa as the true owner while also claiming that money earned through illicit means were used to make the purchase. A Police investigation was also conducted in this regard.

The fact that the business office of the MP being located in this building and that no resurveying was done of the land after purchase only goes on to prove this premise.

However, the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is yet to be informed of the transfer of ownership with CMC documents notes its owner as Nimal Perera

Minister and Anti-Corruption activist involved

Meanwhile, insider sources have also revealed that a prominent minister of the government and a popular Anti-Corruption activist had acted as 'brokers' for the recent sale.

While the Police Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) has filed a case regarding the laundering of Rs. 30 Million through the Gowers Corporate Services (Pvt) Ltd. believed to have been earned by Namal Rajapaksa illicitly, however, the Police have expressed their concerns about any possible influence by the said Minister to the case.

Lakshman Namal Rajapaksa, Indika Prabath Karunajeewa, Chandrasekara Pavithrika Sujani Bogollagama, Nithya Senani Samaranayake, Batapola Arachchige Onella Iresha Silva and Gowers Corporate Services (Pvt) Ltd. have been named as respondents to the case.

More information to follow....

Relevant documents are as follows.

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Basil and Willie secret meeting exposed : JO district leader to join SLFP shortly

A powerful district leader representing the Joint opposition is set to pledge his support to President Maithripala Sirisena and join the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on December 14.

Left due to anti-UNP sentiments

While the political figure had previously held a powerful ministerial post of the SLFP he had distanced himself from the party after the forming of the SLFP-UNP national government, on January 8 opting to join hands with the JO and the Podujana Peramuna instead due to his anti-UNP stance.

Basil engaged in political games

This politician who had worked tirelessly to build the JO as a political force is said to have made this decision due to the revelation of the true intentions of the JO and Podujana Peramuna which are now said to be in the firm grips of Basil Rajapaksa.

While informing a few close political associates of his decision the politician is reported to have said that those including him supported the JO due to their opposition to the UNP but however that Basil is now on the warpath with plans to weaken the SLFP and bring the UNP to power.

Basil and Willie’s Meet up

Meanwhile, sources reveal that Basil Rajapaksa has met the Former Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development, Willie Gamage at his residence recently. According to these reliable sources during the meeting held in the guise of a dinner party, Basil is said to have claimed that the ‘flower bud’ will be unable to gain any significant win in the upcoming polls.

We can't win: Basil

While admitting that the situation is unfavourable for the ‘flower bud’ in rural areas due to the Presidency belonging to the SLFP along with a number of powerful ministerial posts, Basil is reported to have said his intention is to secure as many seats in local government bodies as possible as opposed to winning the polls.

SLFP must be broken down: Basil

By winning as many seats Maithri can be tamed Basil had said adding that he was against a Mahinda - Maithri union as he did not want to lose this golden opportunity to slight the President.

Meanwhile, he had also mentioned that other parties within the JO should be watched to ensure they do not come to the forefront and create issues for the ‘flower bud’.

However, details of this discussion are said to have reached the ears of several SLFP stalwarts including those of the politician who is said to pledge his support to the President on December 14.

Basil works for Ranil

Meanwhile, SLFP members in the JO along with other party leaders are said to be in discussion regarding these comments and is set to take a serious political decision soon sources claim. During the discussions, the main focus has been Basil’s manoeuvring of the JO to benefit Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe.

Accusations are rife that Basil has been working towards eliminating anti-UNP forces from the JO with the leaders of the party now having to focus on the fate that has befallen the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna.

Wimal’s cronies working for Basil

The politician set to cross over on December 14 is said to have mentioned that the remaining members Wimal Weerawansa’s party are now working under Bail’s orders and are controlled by him. He had also added that many of these members have become popular due to seats that were given to them during their tenures in the JVP but that in reality, they are not skilled politicians. According to him the skilled organizers of the NFF party have already joined forces with the President.

Meanwhile, Deputy leader of the NFF Weerakumara Dissanayake, its National Organizer Piyasiri Wijenayake and North Central Provincial Council member P.B Kumara met President Sirisena yesterday (11) and obtained SLFP membership.

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Rs. 100 Million bribe from Gamini Senarath henchman for tax change

A devious scheme is said to be in play with attempts being made to re-amend the taxes levied on the Palm oil importation industry through the 2018 budget.

According to sources, the scheme has been launched by a group of racketeering businessmen involved in the trade who have built a business oligarchy through tax evasion and fraud. It is said a bribe amounting to Rs. 100 Million has been decided on which will be paid to any party that assists them in this regard.

The businessman has been moved to take this step as the palm oil industry oligarchy built by them is expected to take a major hit through the newly imposed tax system in the 2018 budget.

Racketeering in trouble

In the past Rs. 110 was taxed on 1 Kilogram of unrefined palm oil while a Kilo of refined palm oil was taxed at Rs. 135. Under this tax scheme, importers of unrefined palm oil have continuously enjoyed a tax concession of Rs. 25.

However, under the recent budget, these taxes were re-amended with Rs. 100 being declared as the tax for 1 kilo of unrefined palm oil while Rs. 105 has been levied on its refined counterpart. These amendments have caused the importers of unrefined palm oil to lose the significant tax concession they previously enjoyed bringing down to a mere Rs. 5.

‘One percent Standard’

According to reports, these businessmen are said to have misused the ‘One percent Standard’ system of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI) by claiming the palm oil was unrefined thereby committing tax fraud. The businesses have made these claims by mixing unrefined palm oil along with refined palm oil as a result which makes the oil come under the ‘One percent Standard’ category in the standard tests carried out by the SLSI.

Senerath's Blessing

It is said the continuous tax frauds by palm oil importers were committed during the Rajapaksa regime with the support of Former Presidents Cheif of Staff Gamini Senarath. A top-ranking official of the Ministry of Finance is said to have also aided him in the racket. According to reports while several Ministers at the time had attempted to stop these activities through discussions, these talks had fallen through due to the political patronage received by the errant palm oil importers.

Helpless Customs

While Sri Lanka Customs has several times attempted to take action against these crooked businessmen, however, the Customs were left helpless and unable any legal action against them as the imported oil came under the ‘One percent Standard’ of the SLSI.

Accordingly, the tax fraud and racket being conducted by these importers were revealed to the Yahapalana government and its responsible parties by others in the trade. Heeding their pleas while promises were made to implement changes in the taxes levied, however, these never came to fruition as the previous taxes allowing the fraud were reintroduced despite being amended after the promise being made.

Rs. One Billion loss monthly!

However, along with the newly introduced taxes, the frauds committed by certain exporters have now been contained bringing down the business oligarchy created by them. While the new move has attracted palm oil importers who had left the industry due to the unethical practices of these errant businessman experts claim they will be at a great financial risk if the previous taxes are re-introduced.

With palm oil being used as an alternative to coconut oil due to its rising prices the importation of palm oil has gone up to 20,000 - 22,000 Metric tonnes up from the 16,000 imported previously. Therefore if the previous tax scheme is re-introduced the government is also running the risk of losing taxes amounting to a staggering Rs. One Billion experts claim.

 

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