|President's pre-poll propaganda
blitz costs a packet
Millions gone to Pott!
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's propaganda
blitz in the western media just prior to Parliamentary elections has cost
almost half the total budget allocation made to the Government Information
Department for this year.
The cost of hiring the UK based Bell Pottinger PR firm for the President's
overseas propaganda campaign was a staggering 290,581.73 sterling pounds
or Sri Lankan Rs. 39,228,533.35, an invoice dated December 14, 2001, addressed
to former Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundera and the former Minister
of Finance revealed.
The payment to the UK PR firm for the government's publicity campaign,
which turned out to be a flop goes from public funds. However, details
of whether the payment has been made are still not clear.
Secretary to the Finance Ministry Charitha Ratwatte said he was not
aware if the former government had settled the bill with the PR firm. "I
think they haven't left anything outstanding, but I'm not sure if it has
been paid or not," Mr. Ratwatte said.
The total budget allocation for the year 2001 for the Information Department
was estimated at Rs. 88,071,000, while the government's publicity campaign
during the President's five-day tour to Britain was four times this amount.
The actual budget allocation for 1998 for the Information Department
was a little over 50 million rupees while allocation for 1999 shot up to
Rs. 194, 685,466. Last year, the estimated Rs. 85,413,000 was revised to
Rs. 68, 802,500. The allocation was increased to Rs. 88,071,000 for 2001.
President Kumaratunga's five-day visit to Britain, which was dubbed
as a 'working visit' by the Presidential Secretariat, was largely spent
on giving interviews to BBC, CNN and other media. But the entire campaign,
which was aimed at winning elections turned out to be a blunder.
Some of the expenses incurred during her visit include a video compilation
of the visit with copies, which has cost Rs. 187,110, and photographs of
the President and her visit amounting to Rs. 806,407.65. Research programmes
on the visit cost over Rs. 23 million.
The cost of the campaign plus her stay in Britain, which included cost
of accommodation and airfares for the President and the team that accompanied
her has to be doled out from public funds.
The invoice gave bank account details and wanted immediate payment.
However, with the changeover in government, details of payment were not
known. The Sunday Times learns that the campaign costing millions of rupees
was coordinated by the Presidential Secretariat.
However, Government Information Department Director Ariya Rubesinghe
said he was unaware of the expenses during her visit or the publicity campaign.
He said he was neither aware of the involvement of the Bell Pottinger firm.
The Bell Pottinger firm, the company that conducted image building exercises
for Chile's one time dictator and now ailing Augusto Pinochet was introduced
to the PA by the Sri Lankan Emirates Airlines partnership. This same firm
was the one hired by the UNP for the Presidential campaign of its leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2000. A long planned visit to the United Arab Emirates
(U.A.E.) had to be cancelled at the last moment to make way for the UK
visit, The Sunday Times learns.
BELL POTTINGER COMMUNICATION Ltd
14 Curzon Street London W1J 5HN, Tel: 020 7495 4044 Fax: 020 7629 1279
VAT No. GB 238 822251, INVOICE No. 114130 14 December 2001
The Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Dr. P.B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Treasury, General Treasury
Minister of Finance & Planning, The Secretariat, Colombo 1, Sri
Expenses for the period October to November 2001
Outside Broadcast for HE President's visit to the
UK October 2001 UK L 15,500.00 (Rs. 20, 92500)
Video compilation of visit plus copies for Sri Lanka UK £ 1,386.00
Terry Neil photography of HE President for media
purposes UK £ 4,150.99 (Rs.560,383.65)
Photography of HE President's visit to the UK UK £1,822.40 (Rs.246,024)
Transcripts of Radio 4 & Radio 5 items during visit UK £
Expenses in London during HE President's visit
to the UK UK £ 1,782.65 (Rs.240,657.75)
Website Audit UK £ 35,000.00 (Rs.472,5000)
Phase 1 Quantitative research programme UK £ 100,000.00 (Rs.13,500,000)
Phase 2 ñ First 50% of qualitative research
Programme UK £ 75,000.00 (Rs.10,125,000)
Subscription to World Country Markets media
monitoring Analysis for the period October 2001
to September 2002 inc UK £ 6,200.00 (Rs.837,000)
General administration expenses to include telephone,
fax, postage, stationery, photocopying, local travel,
courier & Messenger services for the strategic team,
team co-ordinators, UK, USA, European public affairs teams :
October 2001 UK £ 4,081.50 (Rs.551,002.50)
November 2001 UK £ 4,081.50 (Rs.551,002.50)
Opinion formers, stakeholders and VIP meetings during :
October 2001 UK £ 1,921.58 (Rs.259,413.30)
November 2001 UK £ 1,921.58 (Rs.259,413.30)
Air Fares Flights to/from Colombo for :-
Lord Bell UK £ 4,036.15 (Rs.544,880.25)
David McDonough UK £ 10,563.40 (Rs.1,426,059)
Tim Rycroft UK £ 4,216.20 (Rs.569,187)
Francis Halewood UK £ 3,753.80 (Rs. 506,763)
Mark Turnbull UK £ 1,405.40 (Rs.189,729)
Accommodation & subsistence in Colombo for :-
David McDonough UK £ 5,561.66 (Rs.750,824.10)
Tim Rycroft UK £ 5,143.41 (Rs.694,360.35)
Francis Halewood UK £ 1,392.60 (Rs.188,001)
Mark Turnbull UK £ 1,100.91 (Rs.148,622.85)
TOTAL UK £ 290,581.73 (Rs.39,228,533.35)
THIS INVOICE IS DUE FOR IMMEDIATE PAYMENT
Bank Account Details :
Nat West Bank plc, PO Box 4RY, 250 Regent Street, London W1A 4RY
A/c Name : Bell Pottinger Communications Ltd
A/c Number : 24431249
Sort Code : 56-00-27