YAHAPALANA AS A PUPPET REGIME Part 12
Posted on October 13th, 2019

KAMALIKA PIERIS

ECONOMY (1)

GRAPHITE MINING.

Sri Lanka is the only country in the world that produces super grade, lump and chippy dust graphite containing between 95 and 99 percent pure carbon. Global demand for graphite has risen sharply in recent years because of new industrial uses. For instance, graphite is a vital component in lithium-ion batteries used in hybrid cars.

Foreign companies have been trying to get full mining rights to Sri Lanka‘s graphite mines for several years now. Agents of foreign companies present themselves at the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau every week,   its officials said in 2013. The Canadians, Australians and Chinese have expressed the most interest.

Several companies were registered in Sri Lanka for graphite mining between 2011 and 2013.  Torch River Resources Ltd, a Canadian mining firm based in Calgary, said in 2013 it was working with Han Tal Graphite, based in Sri Lanka. There was also V.V.M. Lanka Minerals, M.R.L. Graphite , G.I.R. Investments and Graphon Mining Resources.  Several of these had the same address.

Australia’s Bora Bora Resources announced in 2013 that it owns 75 percent of a  local company Plumbago Lanka which was set up to explore for graphite. They have already started airborne electromagnetic exploration they said. In 2012 Board of Investment signed an agreement with Sarcon Development Ltd for a graphite mining and processing project. Sarcon’s main investor then was the Curacao-based Plumbago Refining Corporation. Nothing seems to have come of these ventures.

 In August 2019, under Yahapalana rule, extensive mining rights were awarded to a Canadian company Ceylon Graphite. This company with headquarters in Vancouver was in the business of exploring and developing lump vein Graphite mines in historic resource jurisdictions in Sri Lanka. Sarcon Development Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ceylon Graphite.

 Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB), has in August 2019, granted the industrial mining license category A to Sarcon Development, for its K1 Graphite Mining Project at Karasnagala. Karasnagala is Sri Lanka’s third largest licensed mine after Bogala and Kahatagaha mines. Industrial Mining License

Category A is the highest category license in Sri Lanka and grants exclusive rights to mine, process and trade in graphite mined within the area specified in the license. It also allows for underground multi-borehole blasting, commercial production, use of all mining machinery and equipment and export of graphite. It is the final milestone before commercial production. Historically the GSMB has granted just four IMLA licenses for graphite mining in Sri Lanka including the Sarcon/Ceylon Graphite license.

This   license gives Ceylon Graphite mining rights in a land package of over 120 square kilometers. This is a huge development for Ceylon Graphite. We have all been working towards this for the last two and a half years, said Ceylon Graphite’s Chief Executive Officer in 2019. We have achieved this license in a short period of time thanks to the hard work of all our Sri Lankan colleagues. I must also thank the GSMB for their assistance and guidance. We now start to commence commercial production at our K1 site in Karasnagala, he said in August 2019.

ECONOMY (2)

COLOMBO PORT EAST TERMINAL

Sri Lanka is looking at developing the east terminal of the Colombo Port on its own and Ranil Wickremesinghe absolutely had no business to go to India or any country and give assurances regarding it, said Sarath Amunugama in November 2018. That is not how it works. It has to be passed by Parliament. The matter was under discussion but was not signed and sealed. We will have to heed the opinion of the workers and the trade unions.

The Colombo port is very vital for Sri Lanka because it is a trans-shipment port. The East terminal is extremely important to the country as it is a deep water port, [Developing the east terminal] has to be a Sri Lankan operation, concluded Amunugama.

India is also developing its own ports. But Sri Lanka’s ports are superior to those of India said analysts. Colombo port enjoys a better reputation in international shipping than the ports in South India. Turn over time for ships in Colombo is much less. India’s attempt to substitute Indian ports for Colombo failed.  India now recognizes Colombo to be the regional transportation hub.

About 70-80% of the Colombo port is transhipment based and 90% is Indian cargo. This could be increased because Indian ports do not have adequate depth. Sethusamudran canal will not be a problem either. Only vessels less than 10 meter draft can go through it. India can use it to get to Colombo faster.  Sri Lanka location gives its ports a natural advantage.  Colombo port has become a strategic location for both India and China concluded analysts.

ECONOMY (3)

LIGHTING UP MIHINTALE

The Lanka Electricity Company (Pvt) Ltd (LECO) Board unanimously rejected in October 2019, the Rs 275 million donation ordered by the Prime Minister’s office for lighting up of Mihintale World Heritage Site. They said this had nothing to do with the institution’s mandate for CSR. CSR projects are usually selected internally based on mutual benefit to the company and beneficiary. Power and Energy Minister Ravi Karunanayake had for weeks exerted pressure on LECO officials to release the money by electrifying Mihintale, he told Cabinet, foreign and local tourists would be able to visit the site by night. The Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya lodged a petition with the Commissioner of Elections as well.

CORRUPTION (1)

PHONE TAPPING

A Sinhalese-language weekly reported in August 2018 that phone tapping equipment and software had been installed at a home in Pita Kotte. This was a clandestine operation said to be carried out by a covert arm of the police outside standard intelligence gathering, reported the media. The facility was being used to listen to conversations of senior politicians as well as some senior police officers, the report said.  

Subsequently senior Deputy Inspectors General (SDIGs) told the Police Commission that Jayasundera was monitoring their mobile phone conversations. The head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne had told the Commission that the Special Investigation Unit functioning directly under Jayasundera had provided him a list of telephone numbers to obtain details from the service providers.  Seneviratne’s number was also on the list.  These reports of an illegal phone tapping operation from a “safe house” in Pita Kotte   has sparked fears that top politicians may have been targeted, said the media.

CORRUPTION (2)

MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE BUILDING

There was no termination clause in the lease agreement signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and D.P. Jayasinghe Company in 2016 on renting a building for the Ministry, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing corruption in the current administration was told. The Attorney-at-law who prepared the lease agreement said that both parties had agreed not to have a termination clause.

 The total value of the agreement was over Rs. 1.3 billion. From April 08, 2016 to April 07, 2019 The Ministry of Agriculture was to pay Rs. 21 million plus VAT and Nation Building Tax a month. From April 08.2019 to April 07, 2021 the Ministry was to pay Rs. 24.1 million plus VAT and Nation Building Tax a month.

  When the agreement was executed the Ministry paid Rs. 504 million to the lessor. This money was to be used during the last two years of the lease period to reduce Rs. 21 million from the monthly lease of Rs. 24.1 million.  Although the Ministry signed an agreement with D.P. Jayasinghe Company in April, 2016, the Ministry officials did not shift to the building till August, 2017, as D. P. Jayasinghe Company failed to provide the promised facilities. However, the Ministry paid the company over Rs. 21 million a month from April 2016.

The notary fee was around Rs. 3 million. This was to be shared by the Ministry of Agriculture and D. P. Jayasinghe Company. “However the Ministry didn’t pay and after trying several times we gave up,” said one witness.

CORRUPTION (3)

LAW COURTS AND THE UN

 In July 2019 Justice Ministry Additional Secretary Ahmed A.Jawad had written to the Chief Justice and High Court judges that they should meet the visiting UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule and his delegation and, provide them with details they required pertaining to the ongoing proceedings on the Roshen Chanaka murder case, Welikada prison massacre and Rathupaswala shooting incident.

Dinesh Gunawardena MP tabled a copy of the letter in Parliament stating, This is a violation of the Constitution.” Opposition Leader Rajapaksa notified the Speaker that it was already 3 p.m. at the time and that the Chief Justice and the High Court judges were instructed to shortly meet the UN official. Therefore, he requested the Speaker to take immediate action to prevent this.

Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya then personally intervened to quickly prevent a visiting United Nations official from convening a meeting with the Chief Justice and justices of the High Court concerning specific cases being currently heard by the Court. Later the Speaker informed the House that he had instructed the Foreign Minister to take necessary action to suspend the letter until the matter is looked into.

CORRUPTION (4)

SANDUN GAMAGE

in  July 2019 Dushana Vidu Nethin, (DVN) ,  condemned the appointment of Power and Energy Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s lawyer Sandun Gamage to the fifth vacant position of Commissioner at the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka. Gamage’s name was approved by the Constitutional Council. Gamage represented Karunanayake multiple times during hearings into the Central Bank bond scam before the Presidential Commission appointed to inquire into the case, DVN said. 

CORRUPTION (5)

COMMISSION TO PROBE YAHAPALANA CORRUPTION.

In January 2019 President  Sirisena appointed a five-member Commission of Inquiry (CoI), headed by retired Supreme Court judge Upaly Abeyrathne, to probe allegations of large scale corruption between January 15, 2015 and December 31, 2018. The other four Commissioners are retired High Court Judge Sarojini Kusala Weerawardane, retired Auditor General Pasdunkorale Arachchige Pemathilaka, retired Secretary to a Ministry Lalith R. de Silva and retired Deputy Inspector General M. K. D. Wijaya Amarasinghe.

The Commission is mandated to probe into the alleged acts of corruption, fraud, criminal breach of trust, criminal misappropriation of property, cheating and abuse or misuse of power or authority, State resources and privileges” in the last four years by persons who had held or continue to hold political office and those who have been or continue to be public servants and officers of statutory bodies”

PARLIAMENT   (1)

Over 200 MPs attended only one sitting day of Parliament from January 1 to October 1 2018. The only day there were more than 200 was the day of the no confidence motion against Ranil Wickremesinghe, said   Sunday Times having got the information from a Right to Information application. The amount spent per day for a Parliament sitting is around 4 million rupees. The daily attendance allowance had been increased from 500 to 2500, said Sunday Times.

PARLIAMENT   (2)

According to the findings of the ‘Manthri.lk’ run by Verité Research, thirteen MPs had not spoken during Parliamentary debates in 2018, The claim was based on Hansard reports from January to December 2-18. Twelve out of the thirteen MPs belonged to the UPFA. They had not taken part in any Parliamentary debate throughout last year.  ‘Manthri.lk’ also found that  1,150 statements by MPs had been expunged from the Hansard on the order of the Chair from September 15, 2015 to December 2018.

PARLIAMENT   (3)

For the past three and a half years, Joint Opposition had less time to speak in Parliament than the JVP even though they had nine times the number of MPs, said Chandraprema in November 2018.

PARLIAMENT   (4)

Ports and Shipping Minister alleged that the UNP went to the extent of manipulating the Parliamentary process to thwart efforts to expedite investigations into the Treasury bond scams of 2015 and 2016. The debate on Bond Commission report had to be put off since the Attorney General had said that releasing of the entire set of documents could hamper investigations. President Sirisena, in a recorded televised address to the nation said that the recommendations were made on the advice of the CIABOC and the Attorney General.

The Minister alleged that the Office of the Leader of the House was responsible for the deliberate bid to hold up legislation required to speed up investigations undertaken by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC).  He alleged that the top UNP leadership had influenced the parliamentary process and ensured the amendments needed to the Bribery Act were not incorporated. (Island 1.11.18 p 1).  

PARLIAMENT   (5)

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya came under open criticism. Karu’s list of transgressions is long and serious. For nearly four years he presided over a complete mockery of democracy, said Chandraprema.

He has been a willing accomplice in every outrage committed by the Yahapalana government in Parliament. He went along with the government during the passage of the Bills that amended the Local government and Provincial council’s elections laws by bringing in committee stage amendments to them though they had been presented to Parliament for completely other purposes.

 Quite apart from upholding parliamentary traditions and the Standing Orders. Karu even kept Parliament going till late for the government to collect enough MPs and to complete the horse trading that went on before the smaller Yahapalana political parties agreed to vote for the changes in the Provincial Councils election law.  Karu Jayasuriya was with Sarath Fonseka in a five star hotel, after Fonseka was defeated in the Presidential election of 2010. Critics have not forgotten that either.  ( CONTINUED)

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