Odds & Ends
Head of the controversial NGO Berghof Foundation, Dr Norbert Ropers, who played hide and seek in early January after his visa was not renewed and even wrongfully claimed that he got it renewed on appeal. Though the man eventually slipped out of the country, he has yet to let go of his job here. Inquired as to who has replaced Dr Ropers, a spokesperson for the NGO said he is continuing to function as its Director from Germany.
Not by the rule book
The self- proclaimed international community, comprising only a section of the powerful states in the West and our own self-appointed civil society reps thought they could isolate Mahinda Aiya and get him to do their bidding. But what they didn’t realize was he is no spring chicken and like the old saying when things get tough the tough gets going. And like old Preme in the late 80s he might be able to kick start the economy even with a stepped up war and with or without big donor supporters like the World Bank, by not sticking to other people’s rule books. For one thing the work on the one billion dollar oil refinery in Hambantota promoted by some West Asian investors may begin sooner than expected. Then the Iranian proposal to increase the refinery capacity at Sapugaskanda to 100,000 barrels from the current 50,000 barrels with a US$700 million investment too may get off the ground after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamadinejad pays a state visit here towards the middle of the year.
Poor are poorer,
rich are richer
The donors like the World Bank have been patting themselves on the back saying what a jolly good job they have been doing everywhere. But if they have done such a good job how is it that much of Latin America and Africa are still without proper drinking water, sanitation, shelter, health care, and even educational facilities. For all the globe trotting, conferences, seminars, cocktails and the lavish comforts they have enjoyed, it can be said that only the donors have truly benefited.
Poor Central Environmental Authority overburdened with applications to build thousands of new cell phone towers is definitely struggling. Though it may not be in a hurry, the investors like the fifth cell phone operator Bharti Airtel Lanka Pvt. Ltd. with a US$200 million investment is in a definite hurry wanting to get started immediately as they have already announced their plans to launch their service at the beginning of this year.
The result is they are made to kick their heels at the door steps of these bureaucracies. So recently CEA guys were summoned to BOI and told to speed up this massive new investment. But CEA boss and JHU legal man Udaya Gammanpila insists they cannot prioritize the applications of one applicant over that of others. As for the summoning, he insists his officers cannot be summoned and only that they were invited for a discussion.
The fate of the special lottery put out by the Development Lotteries Board at an enhanced price of Rs. 20 per ticket for the recently concluded Deyata Kirula exhibition remains a mystery with its draw scheduled to be held on the last day of the extravaganza being put off indefinitely.
Sources said though some six million tickets were printed for the special draw less than one million tickets have been sold, even though they were on sale from January 1. Comparatively the popular Mahajana Sampatha lottery on average sells about two million tickets per draw each week.
When we tried to contact Development Lotteries Board Chairman Sarana Gunawardena yesterday his office said he had not come to work for several days. There was no response from his mobile phone either.