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News


SLIC deal: COPE questions PB & Charitha

By Gihan Indraguptha
Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundara who was questioned by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) over the privatisation of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC) had said that he had given the green light to go ahead with the privatisation procedure of the Corporation, even before the cabinet had approved it.
He said further that it was the common practice to go ahead with the procedure before cabinet approval is granted when the approval was guaranteed by the minister. But he had been unable to cite an example when asked by the members of the committee.
Treasury Secretary P.B. Jayasundera who is now embroiled in controversies regarding several privatisation deals during his tenure as Chairman of the Public Enterprise Reform Commission (PERC), was summoned before the parliamentary select committee looking in to the matter.
On November 6, the COPE called on Jayasundera and former Secretary to the Treasury Charitha Ratwatte to give explanations on their conduct during the divestiture of SLIC. During the last few weeks The Nation extensively detailed the shocking misconduct by the PERC, treasury officials and two leading chartered accounting companies, in this deal.
The reports presented by PERC detailing these two controversial deals, clearly pointed out that these procedures had commenced even without obtaining cabinet approval. In the privatisation of SLIC, the Financial Advisory Services were awarded to Price Waterhouse Coopers even before the cabinet of ministers gave the green light to go ahead with the deal. That award is now shrouded in controversy for the blatant disregard of ethical conduct. COPE is also looking in to how Ratwatte appointed a steering committee and a technical evaluation committee prior to obtaining cabinet approval for the deal.
Position reports were presented by PERC to COPE, explaining their roles in the privatisation of SLIC and Lanka Marine Services Ltd (LMSL). The COPE raised the same question. The Nation queried last week as to who was taking responsibility for these documents, since no one at PERC had bothered signing any of them.