The Ministry of Defence will consult the Attorney General for advice on how to recover more than Rs. 1.7 billion rupees due from Avant Garde Maritime Services Limited, the Cabinet of Ministers were told last week. This amount, President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the Minister of Defence, has said was due to the Sri Lanka [...]


Avant Garde owes Navy Rs. 1.7 billion: AG’s advice sought


The Ministry of Defence will consult the Attorney General for advice on how to recover more than Rs. 1.7 billion rupees due from Avant Garde Maritime Services Limited, the Cabinet of Ministers were told last week.

This amount, President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the Minister of Defence, has said was due to the Sri Lanka Navy. His intimation came in a memorandum he forwarded to liquidate Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited (RALL). It was accepted by ministers.

RALL, a security company, which was established during the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa administration, recruited retired personnel from the Armed Forces and the Police. This was to undertake security work in state establishments which were previously contracted to security firms in the private sector. The exercise assured jobs for retired forces personnel on attractive salary scales.

President Sirisena noted that the RALL had been established on December 6 2006 under the Companies Act No 17 of 1982. He noted that “due to the state of the national security that prevailed in the island during those days, it was essentially required (sic) to deploy the armed personnel to the duties in respect of the law and order…..”

He has added that this company had “fulfilled” its task of providing security to Private, Public institutions and Economic Centres. However, “due to the peaceful environment that prevails at present, it is observed that the necessity that prevailed for providing the security services to the State Institutions and the Economic Centres through a state owned security service is no longer required.”

The assets of RALL have been placed at Rs. 3,264 million. Among the liabilities Mr. Sirisena has listed are Rs. 160 million invested with it by Avant Garde Maritime Services Ltd. under a project for fishing trawlers and Rs. 2.5 million to be paid to the Navy at Welisara for storing RALL weapons. The other liabilities have not been compiled yet, he has noted.

RALL staff comprised 166 office employees, 1,972 personnel deployed on ground security and 420 deployed on maritime security. The office employees, who are on contract, will end their service in December. Other employees are to be attached to the Civil Security Department.

Questions on President’s visit to Malaysia
President Maithripala Sirisena’s two-day visit to Malaysia is being touted in some circles as a “state visit.”
However, far from the claim, it is only an “official visit.” It is correctly described even in the official web site of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry though its counterpart in Colombo is overlooking the fact.

Some seasoned Sri Lankan diplomats ask whether the timing of an “official visit” was even appropriate.
The reason – the severe mob assault on Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur. Though arrests were made, Premier Najib Razak’s Government has not yet indicted those responsible.

“Anything goes in the Foreign Ministry in Colombo,” declared one seasoned Sri Lankan diplomat.

Minister quips: Let’s eat together
Last Tuesday’s weekly ministerial meeting saw some sarcastic wit which is rare these days.A controversial UNP minister who has been behind recent million dollar deals declared he was not taking part in a discussion on a matter related to the Colombo Port. It related to a tender where the prime mover on behalf of an old Colombo blue chip company, was his own brother.

Minister Duminda Dissanayake, who is also General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), could not help but retort “Kanavanan Ekuthu vela kamu. Ogollo Kannai, Api Mada Kannai beha,” he declared sarcastically in Sinhala. What he said was “If we are eating, let us eat together. You cannot eat alone so that we have to eat only mud.’

Mr. Dissanayake was alluding to allegations of corruption levelled against some Government ministers. The word “eat” he used was to describe skimming off or taking bribes.The project that was discussed is also embroiled in controversy. Ports and Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, as our political commentary reveals, has cried foul over the issue.


Report sought on  backlog of bills
The Cabinet of Ministers has sought a report from the Attorney General’s Department and the Legal Draftsman’s office within two weeks on whether there was a backlog of draft bills.

The decision has been routed through Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
Some ministers complained that the drafting of new bills was being inordinately delayed.


Muslim dept. and cultural complex
The Government will establish a Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs. There will also be an Islamic Cultural Complex.
These new divisions will function under the Ministry of Posts, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs.


Chinese company gets big highway contract
China’s Gezhouba Group International Engineering Company Limited has won a contract to build 58.7 percent of a highway, part of the Central Expressway from Kurunegala to Dambulla.

The project is under the “Awakening Rajarata,” a programme spearheaded by President Maithripala Sirisena. The award of the contract has been recommended by the Cabinet Appointed Negotiating Committee (CANC).


Govt. packs more Whips
Parliament will soon have two more Deputy Government Whips and three Assistant Government Whips. The move follows a recommendation to the Cabinet of Ministers by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.Ministers have approved the request for which financial provision is now being made.
There was no word if these will carry additional allowances for the extra work.


Cricket in Parliament
Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Mohan de Silva has sent a letter to the Sports Editor regarding last week’s Café item headlined “Lanka’s cricket team selected in parliamentary premises”. Please see Page 26 for the Sports Editor’s response to the SLC Secretary’s letter.


Huge foreign exchange fraud exposed
The friend of a retired bureaucrat now living Down Under has been caught red handed – transferring US$ 100,000 every month.
The bureaucrat worked in a Ministry where hundreds of projects were undertaken after tenders were called. When he retired, he had opted to leave Sri Lanka. The friend is now being questioned on how he came by the money to be sent abroad and whether it was left behind by the bureaucrat in question.

Thajudeen case: Arrest of young politico imminent
The arrest of a young politician in connection with the alleged murder of ruggerite Wasim Thajudeen is now imminent, a highly placed Police source said yesterday.

Investigations into the case are being carried out by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
It was only weeks earlier that President Maithripala Sirisena lamented in an interview with the Sunday Times that the “Thajudeen case” had been suppressed.


Explosive file re-emerges
They talk in whispers in investigative circles about how a file, which most were unaware of, has suddenly surfaced. According to the story doing the rounds, the lady warrior who once led the drive against corrupt elements sought the view of the official legal eagles over a scandal of high proportions. The legal eagles were quick to respond. Arrest those responsible and question the others connected, was the advice. The file never saw the light of day thereafter, they say.

Not until the lady said goodbye.


Artistes to get double
Artistes are in luck’s way. The Government will now double the annual payment to ten thousand rupees from the existing five thousand rupees.
The Government also wants to formulate an “appropriate selection criterion” for artistes so more of them would be eligible for payment. This is in addition to a possible contributory pension scheme from 2018.

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