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31st May 1998

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Dates and Dollars and Airbus deal

By Frederica Jansz

The controversy over the purchase of six new aircraft for AirLanka continues as Ravi Karunanayake, ULF MP claims Emirates placed the order for the six A330-200 Airbus in January this year, before negotiations for the privatization of AirLanka had been finalized with the Public Enterprises Reform Commission (PERC)

Tim Clark, a key figure in the negotiations, between Emirates Airlines and PERC refuted this claim saying the order for the six new A330-200 for AirLanka was placed with Airbus Industries only after March 30 this year when Emirates Airlines was given 40% equity in AirLanka.

However in a chart tabling all new purchase orders, Airbus Industries on 31st March 1998, made public the new orders placed for aircraft with the company.

In this chart it clearly indicates that on January 30,1998, an order for six new aircraft was placed for AirLanka starting delivery 1999.

The Sunday Times contacted . Andrew Gray, the new Managing Director for AirLanka and asked how such an order could have been placed with Airbus Industries even before formal negotiations for the sale of 40% equity of AirLanka was complete. Mr. Gray refused to comment adding however that the purchase of the six new aircraft would be very advantageous for AirLanka.

Mr. Karunanayake further points out that it has been decided that AirLanka lease back craft at US$ 900,000 a month, when many international leasing companies specializing in leasing aircraft have been keen to enter into a dry lease with AirLanka for US $ 750,000 a month.

What this means is that when the six new A330-200 are delivered to AirLanka they will be re-sold to a leasing company after which AirLanka will lease the same aircraft back for a price of US $ 900,000 per month.

The Business Plan submitted by Emirates Airlines states the A 330-200s will be purchased under the favourable launch customer terms that Emirates achieved for its A 330s.

A sale and lease back will then be put in place by an operating lessor. Any cash exposure associated with ownership will be eliminated by this off-balance sheet policy.

Ravi Karunanayaka maintains that if Tim Clark claims the order for the six A 330-200 for AirLanka was placed, with Airbus Industries only after March 30, after the agreement was signed this year, it seems inconceivable that within the span of a few hours, AirLanka transferred US $ 26.5 million as an order confirmation to Airbus Industries.

The chart from Airbus Industries states that negotiations for the aircraft began as early as January 1997 where basic prices were established in accordance with the delivery conditions prevailing in January 1997.

Negotiations for new aircraft take an estimated 18 months before an order is confirmed. According to documentation from Airbus Industries both the Airbus Agreement and the Rolls Royce Engine Agreements entered into with Sri Lanka, have been dated as January 1997. The chart by Airbus Industries states the order for six aircraft AirLanka was confirmed in January 1998.

The business plan submitted to AirLanka by Emirates is dated January 1998 and signed by Tim Clark. Mr. Clark states that the cornerstone of the plan is fleet replacement particularly the ageing Tristars.

A mix of A 340-300s and A330-200 will, he points out, provide a substantive means of reducing unit costs whilst at the same time enhancing the airline's reach into its major international markets such as Australasia, Japan and Europe. 'The Sunday Times' was told that after the six new aircraft are delivered to AirLanka, the airline will fly seven times a week to Australia, UK and Frankfurt.

Mr. Clark adds the Emirates would expand upon the Business Plan, most probably in year three subject to improved aeropolitical entitlements and market access.

The Emirates Business Plan for AirLanka states that they will increase take off weight of the A340s and change the interiors and livery to come into line with the new A330-200s. This may involve grounding the aircraft for up to six weeks.

Emirates will implement an operating programme which centres on Colombo as a hub, thereby maximising traffic flows. First class on AirLanka will also be eliminated and replaced with a luxury Business Class.

Ravi Karunanayake concludes that the six new aircraft for AirLanka was in fact meant for Emirates which however have been transferred to AirLanka.

He says, as this is the single largest procurement purchased in Sri Lanka, and as per the Finance Manual of AirLanka, PERC should have agreed to call in for tenders. It has been repeatedly mentioned that commonality of equipment is the success of these negotiations.

However, Mr. Karunanayake asserts, AirLanka which has 5 airbuses in service at present, are fitted with CFM engines. He asks, why then Rolls Royce engines have been chosen, alleging that Rolls Royce is the standard engine for Emirates Airlines.

Dengue raises head again

The dreaded dengue fever raised it's head again, in Colombo, Gampaha and Kandy, Health officials warned.

According to them the main reason for the fever is the onset of the rainy season.

The Health Education Bureau on Friday issued guidelines on the control and prevention of dengue fever.

"In the majority of instances dengue fever does not end up with complications like bleeding.

If your child develops fever rest your child at home, for a day or two even after the fever subsides. Give extra liquids; use paracetomol to get relief from pain and fever but not more than four times a day," a statement from the Health Education Bureau said.

"If your child has had fever for 2-3 days without a cough or cold or any other obvious symptom he may be having a dengue infection. Other early manifestations that you may find are redness in the face and palms and marked pain in the limbs and joints.

Seek medical advice immediately," the statement said. "The early warning signs of complications of dengue fever are upper abdominal pain with persistent, vomiting.

If the vomit is altered in colour to brown, black or red see your doctor immediately. (In a fair child you may notice red spots like mosquito bites in the skin). Regular blood tests will help to identify any complications early," the Health Bureau said.

"Serious complications of dengue infection like haemorrhage shock are more likely to occur around the 4th to the 7th day after the onset of fever.

At this stage your child may not have fever and apparently be looking well," the statement added.

Why was tender procedure violated, queries Jayalath

UNP Parliamentarian Dr. Jayalath Jayawardene has asked for a reply to his question from Minister of Internal and External Trade and Food as to why established tender procedure was violated when entering into a joint venture with the Amul Company of India.

In a letter dated 27.05.98, Dr. Jayawardene has alleged that Minister Kingsley T. Wickramaratne was dodging serious issues which are of national importance.

He claims that by this joint venture agreement, the government has been guided by the 1990 valuation of Rs. 196 million thereby causing a massive loss to the government of Sri Lanka.

It was learnt that the valuable property in Ambewela has not been included in valuing Milko assets. There by it is alleged that this has led to reducing the value of the company.

However, Minister Wickramaratne during the debate told Parliament that the money payable within six months was settled just two days before the debate.

The debate, earlier fixed for May 7 was postponed when the Minister asked for more time to study the matter further.

Bank union warns of strike

By Chamintha Thilakarathna.

A powerful bank union has warned it would call employees of state and private banks out for action from June 12 in protest against the failure to meet the demands of rural bank staff.

The 14 day notice given by the Ceylon bank employees union will end on June 11 and from the next day the union will resort to islandwide trade union action in private and state banks, CBEU General Secretary M.R. Shah said.

The union has planned a picketing campaign followed by a walk out by all bank employees." If the Central Bank authorities still do not meet our demands, the CBEU will have no choice but to resort to further action", he said.

Rural bank employees are demanding a 45% salary increase and an extra cost of living allowance. "They are the lowest paid bank employees whose situation has seldom been looked into or improved.", Mr. Shah said.

I'm nobody's muppet-Harith

Always Breakdown heading for crash

By Shelani de Silva.

The popular TV political comedy Always Breakdown is heading for a show-down with the script writer resigning and saying he was not prepared to be anyone's muppet.

The script writer Harith Gunewardene resigned saying he would take legal action if the TV station TNL continued to use the names of the characters he had created. Always Breakdown which focuses on political leaders both in the Government and the Opposition has won acclaim for its satire and creativeness.

Mr. Gunewardane told The Sunday Times he had been having problems with the script or the songs being changed, but he had continued to work until last week when he alleges that he was asked not to base the script on the latest credit card issue involving a minister.

"I had started on the script for the programme, when I got a call telling me not to base the story on that issue. I was also told the programme would be stopped in two week time or after the elections.I knew they wanted me out, so I resigned," he said.

Harith who has written more than 60 scripts says he has not signed any copyright contract with the TV station TNL. But it was he who created the popular name, Annibal, Amdun, Gonsan and others.

"I have sole rights over these characters. They are my creations. I will not allow anyone to use my work without my consent," he said.

He also alleges that when he was first approached by the management he had been told the stories should be highlighted attacking the UNP 70 percent and PA 30 percent.

"But later it was the other way round. I was told to refrain from using certain ministers in the show.One such person was Mangala Samaraweera .I was told our licence would not be extended..But when the credit card issue came up I felt I had to refer to it."

"To me a fault is a fault,be it a minister or an Opposition MP.But at times I found that a Director had more control over my work. I am not willing to be treated as a muppet.I value my creations more than money," he said.

"The muppets are not mine but the names are mine. I applied for registration with the Registry of Patents and Trade Marks .I sent the application for registration for four characters last October and the rest this month," he said.

Trade Marks Chief D M Karunaratna told 'The Sunday Times' the script writer had applied for registration and it was being processed.

He said lawyers would be consulted , a gazette notification issued and a decision taken within about three months after going through the normal procedure. He said a second party had the right to appeal in such cases of registration and the matter might even have to go to courts. TNL Chairman Shan Wickramasinghe, nor its News Director Ishini Wickramasinghe Perera, were available for comment on Saturday.

The following is a translation of the last controversial script written by Harith for the 'Always breakdown' show, on the ministers credit card.

Scene 1

Characters - Mudalali/ Lotus

Location:The Boutique

(Lotus enters the boutique with full suit and sunglasses. The Mudalali also has changed his boutique into a textile shop)

Lotus: How / Mudalali. ?

Mudalali: This is Lotus. Come Come.

L: Mudalali You have got into a new business

M: Yes. Don't you know that it's no use of weighing dhal everyday.

L: That's right. We have to do new things, even after selling the existing things. If you need new patters please tell me. I have a top class degree.

M: Do you get donkeys who award degrees for designing dresses.

L: Yes, you get them in London. That's Ok. Get me some boy's T-shirts ?

M: Boy's T-shirts ?

L: Yes , I also want some boy's shoes .

M: Mr. Lotus you are trying to make a donation ?

L: Yes, you get the returns depending on what you get. So I will donate .

M: Here are the items .(The Mudalai hands over shoes and shirts to Mr. Lotus)

L: Thank you. Here is my credit card.

M: So now you are operating with Credit Cards.c

L: I picked it up in my grandfather's rubber estate.

M:So your grandfather had rubber estates.

L:Not only rubber estates, he also had Rs. 75,000 with him.

M: No

L: Not no, yes. When our father crossed, Akman put RS. 75,000 in his pocket


More News/Comment * MP acquitted from 'fabricated case' * AirForce blames "illegal outfit" for Athas attack * Pakistan now satisfied with Lanka’s stand * Kollupitiya ‘curfew’ stifling say residents * MMCs walk out of the meeting * Moulavi called out and shot dead

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