|SLIC deal: COPE questions PB
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