taking whom for a ride?
While payment of Rs. 800 million to the Sri Lankan Government
is still outstanding for the purchase of six cluster bus company
shares, parties responsible for this non-payment are preparing to
bid for the other seven bus companies on the CSE next week, under
a different name.
One of the
companies which have submitted Expressions of Interest is Jayalakshmi
Transport Services (Private) Limited which has provided the Business
Address, telephone number and Fax number of Mr. Wettasinghe while
also naming him as the contact person when initially submitting
information regarding the company. LATEC Managing Director Ravi
Wettasinghe himself a partner of the Consortium IBIS which was to
buy 39 percent shares of six cluster bus companies was alleged to
be disguising his identity and attempting to obtain shares by promoting
companies under different names.
when contacted by The Sunday Times denied any links with IBIS or
any companies which had bid for the bus company.
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe having said that the same party should
not be allowed to purchase shares in more than three companies,
The Sunday Times investigation revealed that Wettasinghe connections
could be traced to a large number of bidders.
Many of the
bidders are alleged to be mere paper companies.
government despite being in possession of information appears to
be ignoring these links for reasons not evident to the public.
the IBIS company has twice delayed the payment of 60 percent of
the purchase price amounting to more than 800 million Sri Lankan
Technical Evaluation Committee had been of the view that the financial
capabilities and credit ratings of the bidders should be checked,
instructions issued from above prevented this move and the decision
was made that this check would be conducted after the bidding takes
place, resulting in neither the credit worthiness nor technical
competence of bidders being adequately checked.
The four member
Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) which met to shortlist investors
based on the business proposals for investment and management in
the state owned Bus Transport Services, was clearly dissatisfied
with the amount of information obtained by the Public Enterprises
Reforms Commission regarding those to bid for the state bus companies.
It recommended that PERC obtain more information regarding the bidders,
such as the names of the Directors and the major shareholders holding
more than 10 percent of the issued capital of each consortium member
and each bidding company.
PERC was instructed to obtain a status report from the Credit Information
Bureau of the Central Bank as to the current status of each Director
and major shareholder of the Consortium members and the bidding
The TEC further
recommended to PERC that it should obtain status reports from the
Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Industries as to satisfactory
contractual performance of the bidding companies and/or their consortium
members, if there were any such contracts.
LATEC Managing Director Ravi Wettasinghe was a senior official of
the Werahera Bus company which shut down leaving hundreds of employees
being made that despite citing links to the Bank of America, the
IBIS company could prove no such connection, a state bank followed
up this information only to learn that credit related information
provided by the party selected to purchase shares in six of the
cluster bus companies was flimsy.
the IBIS company which came in with a bang to buy shares and take
over the management of the bus companies requested the government
to give it a guarantee so as to enable them to obtain a loan.
bus operators protested against this attempt saying the government
should not become a guarantor, the Minister of Transport in parliament
issued a statement that no such government guarantees would be given.
again fears of such a move are being voiced by those in the local
transport sector. Why should a British investor be brought in and
then supported on state funds is their main query.
Lanka Private Bus Owners Association President Gemunu Wijeratne
questioned as to how a company which had thrice failed to honour
its payments was being allowed to buy these companies when the private
bus owners were refused the opportunity.
In a letter
to the Prime Minister's advisor R. Paskaralingam the LPBOA expressed
interest in managing the cluster bus companies on behalf of the
government by utilizing funds from an aid agency.
also said that private bus owners in the Vavuniya Bus Company had
warned they would not allow the Jayalakshmi Transport Services to
run buses in the area.
there are allegations regarding an official of the Transport Ministry
who has been nominated to work at the PERC to be responsible for
managing the bus sale. He is to be paid by the World Bank and is
also the Head of the Unit to Monitor the Buses even after they are
also face many hardships if he is allowed to supervise the sale
as conditions in the agreements will not be fairly supervised by
him. So, we wish to make strong objections on his appointment,"
Mr. Wijeratne stated in a letter to the Country Director of the
World Bank this week. "We understand that under World Bank
procedure, government servants cannot be given payments for 2 years
after leaving service."
The LPBOA President
also alleged that Mr. Wettasinghe's company had sold bus engines
sent by cluster companies for repair.
for interested parties to submit expressions of interest stated
that the cluster bus companies which contribute about 35 percent
to the transport sector, were suffering severe investment shortages.
The PERC statement
also clearly states that payment for the shares must be made within
45 days of accepting the shares.
to be signed between the Secretary to the Treasury and the Manager,
a company incorporated in Sri Lanka also emphasizes the importance
of honouring payments.
Events as stipulated by the Agreement to be signed states "This
Agreement shall cease and stand terminated without any notice to
the other party on the occurrence of any one of the following events:
of instalments on due dates as set out in Clause 3.1 of the Shareholders'
Times attempts to interview PERC Director General Deepal Guneratne
to clarify the latest position regarding the IBIS deal failed as
a spokesperson for the D.G. said all interviews have been halted.
"We're not giving interviews to anyone at the moment."
payment of bid bonds for another seven cluster bus companies closes
on Wednesday, with the mystery into the IBIS deal yet unsolved and
no moneys paid for the takeover of 39 percent shares of six cluster
which have expressed interest in purchasing the six cluster bus
companies on the CSE on February 11, include Jayalakshmi Transport
Services Pvt. Ltd.
The six state-owned
cluster bus companies centred in the non- payment controversy are
Colombo Metropolitan Bus Company, Gampaha Bus Company, Kalutara
Bus Company, Mahanuwara Bus Company, Sabaragamuwa Bus Co. and Rajarata
to the seven bus companies to be traded on February 11 Jayalakshmi
Transport Services Private Ltd is reported to be interested in bidding
for the Northern Regional Transport Board, Vavuniya Peoplised Bus
Company, and New Eastern Bus Co. while the other party ADI Holdings
is looking towards owning shares in Wayamba Bus Company, Ruhunu
Bus Company, Uva Bus Co, and Nuwara Eliya Bus Company.
operating inside health centres
Several Chinese health centres run in various parts of
the city with boards proclaiming BOI approval and often with political
and police protection or patronage are now being exposed as brothels.
or double game has been going on for years but the curtain was pulled
down recently when the Colombo Crime Division busted an alleged
brothel being run under cover of a Chinese restaurant, health centre,
Karaoke and night club all in one. With thin red lines running between
licences, approvals and all that what really happens is significantly
secretive or confusing.
note in the recent exposures was the role of a reserve Sub Inspector
from Narahenpita. He is alleged to have gone to one of these Chinese
outfits and asked for a woman offering Rs. 2500, a CCD detective
said. The woman in charge of the alleged brothel had tipped off
the CCD and they in turn arranged a Borella meeting to nab the officer.
The woman in charge brought the girl there and the sub inspector
also came for the transaction but the detectives pounced on him.
The raids and
exposures have put a new spotlight on the so-called Chinese health
centres which sport the BOI approval boards and other signs or slogans.
there are 12 Chinese Health Centres, approved by the BOI. An official
of the BOI said approval was given on the recommendation of the
Ministries of Health or Indigenous Medicine.
Two weeks ago,
a Chinese Health Centre was closed by the BOI after it was raided
by Police who acted on complaints from neighbours.
A BOI official
claimed they regularly inspected such health centres to check on
patient registers, bill books and other documents.
Ministry's additional secretary said their role was to evaluate
documents sent by the BOI. He said two weeks ago he had visited
one such health centre which had applied for approval but he was
not satisfied with what he saw and no approval was given.
A. Lugoda gave details of how they raided a Chinese Restaurant in
Kollupitiya, which had been given BOI approval. He said on a tip
off officers had spied on the centre for several days before the
raid. CCD ASP Ravindra Karawita said they had obtained a search
warrant and sent a decoy after which nine Chinese were arrested
at the health centre.
The CCD director
assured they would maintain a full alert to crackdown on such health
centres which were cover ups for brothels.
A BOI official
said a night club raided last week was next to a registered health
centre. He said the health centre and the nightclub were owned by
the same person.
"When we visited the premises, there was a Chinese restaurant,
karaoke club and a health centre. We told them that all have to
be separate and cannot be in the same premises", the official
the health centre, which was located right next to the club raided
by the CCD, had written to the BOI requesting permission to employ
a Chinese doctor.
In a letter
dated January 29, the Additional Secretary to the Health Ministry
had written to the BOI that they had no objection to granting approval
for the medical practitioner.
The Sunday Times visited the location where the health centre, and
the nightclub were sited we saw only a nightclub board and no health
of the CCD appealed for public assistance and tip-offs to curb this
racket. He said people were often reluctant to get involved in such
matters but there was a need for more civic consciousness. Complaints
could be made with full confidentiality on telephone numbers 662330,
662323 or 662311.
demands justice for Central Bank victims
after the Central Bank bomb blast carried out by the LTTE destroyed
the lives of nearly a hundred, the Sihala Urumaya party has called
on the relatives of victims to seek justice by appearing as petitioners
in the case against those harbouring Velupillai Prabhakaran.
A press release
issued by its Deputy Secretary-Media, Udaya Gammanpila said "We
are ready to bring Anton Balasingham, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan
and Thamilchelvan before the courts of law. Furthermore, persons
such as Austin Fernando, Bernard Goonetilleke, Rauff Hakeem and
Arumugam who are aware of the place where Prabhakaran is hiding
but are not informing the police should be brought before the courts."
Clamouring for the payment of adequate compensation for the victims
of the Central Bank bomb blast, Sihala Urumaya states that if the
government does not have sufficient funds for this purpose the organisation
which caused this death and destruction should come forward. The
Sihala Urumaya is planning to form an association for the victims
of the Central Bank bomb explosion with a view to achieving these
over antidote test at Kurunegala hospital
A research testing of antidotes at the Poisons Unit of
the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital has been opposed by some doctors
in the hospital.
is being done in collaboration with the Oxford University and Colombo
Medical Faculty under the aegis of the Health Secretary.
doctors claim that the testing of a new antidote on patients brought
to the poisons unit has resulted in increased deaths.
to this claim, the Hospital Director Dr. Ananda Gunasekera told
The Sunday Times that deaths due to use of the new antidote has
at trials is 5% while usually, prior to the use of the new antidote,
the death rate was 18%".
Under the conventional
method of treating poisoned patients, a tube is inserted into the
patient's mouth and liquids fed into it forcing the patient to vomit.
method is old and has a high rate of mortality and morbidity. Sometimes
the tube can go elsewhere like the lungs and the situation can get
complicated resulting in the death of the patient" he said.
Under the new
method a particular type of charcoal called 'activated charcoal'
Here, 50 ml.
of charcoal is mixed with a lot of water and given to the patient.
is said to absorb all the poison in the stomach which is then passed
with the faeces.
method is used in several developed countries and we are now looking
at introducing it here," Dr. Gunasekera said.
The study had
also been conducted at Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura hospitals.
look for link in bank heists
Police are viewing closed circuit camera recordings at
the two private banks which were robbed last week in the Talangama
They are trying
to see whether there is a link between the two gangs armed with
T56 rifles and pistols, which had robbed the banks and got away
with millions of rupees.
The Hong Kong
and Shanghai Bank at Pelawatta was robbed on Friday morning around
11 a.m. and Rs. 5.6 million consisting of US, Canadian and Australian
dollars and SL rupees were stolen.
of Talangama Police, SI W J Pathirana said that four men had entered
the bank with a T-56 rifle and a pistol and forced the manager to
open the safe.
taken the money from the safe and from the cashier", he said,
adding that they had taken Canadian $50, US$ 1,157 and A$ 250, and
the rest in rupees.
A car with a
driver was parked outside the bank while four men had entered the
bank with weapons, he said. Meanwhile, another bank robbery had
taken place on Tuesday (28) around 12.30 p.m. at Malabe. Two armed
men had entered the Commercial Bank and got away with Rs. 390,000.