Privatisation (Volume I)


  • IMF, World Bank & ADB Agenda on
  • Privatisation (Volume I)
  • Pillage of Plantations in Sri Lanka
  • By Nihal Sri Ameresekere
  • Published: May, 2011
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 248
  • Size: 8.25×11
  • ISBN: 9781452062600
  • Our Price : $52.00 ($37.00 + Shipping $15.00)

Pillage of Plantations in Sri Lanka

‘Pillage of Plantations’ in Sri Lanka, under the IMF, World Bank and ADB privatization agenda, incisively analyses, appallingly dubious privatizations of valuable plantations in Sri Lanka, causing the people colossal losses, exposing shocking indifference of international developmental agencies, completely eroding public confidence, which is crucial to foster a free and open economy, with transparency.

Plantations historically base of the national economy, leading tea exporter in the world, were nationalized by Prime Minister Sirima Dias Bandaranaike. Her daughter, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who decried previous privatizations, as ‘brazen pillage and plunder of people’s wealth by cronies’, publicly avowed privatization would be transparent, free of corruption, and those in public life held accountable.

Plantations privatizations were carried out by hand-picked confidantes, presided by Senior Partner, KPMG Ford Rhodes Thornton & Co., Rajan Asirwatham, under the purview of Deputy Minister Finance G.L. Peiris, also then Minister,

Justice & Constitutional Affairs (now Minister, External Affairs), directly under President Kumaratunga. Though President Kumaratunga, Minister G.L. Peiris and then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, two Oxford educated, publicly decried as dubious and fraudulent plantations privatizations, assuring legal action, no action was taken thereon, arraigning the confidantes and cronies.

What is demonstrated is that pontification by political leaders, espousing enforcement of the rule of law is mere rhetoric, and in reality, socio-politically influential are above the rule of law. It discloses the unashamed tolerance of fraud and corruption by confidantes of those at the helm in a country; with governments and society uninhibitedly bestowing upon corrupt miscreants, even more recognition and position, rather than arraigning them, as warranted, before the law; whilst some duplicitously articulate transparency and good governance.

This book is an invaluable and indispensable research book on real case studies for those who are interested in privatization and advocating good governance; and to comprehend socio-political realities.

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They sat, deliberated and reported upon the divestiture of public assets, which they, themselves, in their Report refer to as a national asset, the largest and the most important segment of the national economy, and recommended that the benefits of the privatisation be passed on to all citizens of the country in an equitable manner, and that it is desirable that the citizens of the country have a more direct stake in the plantation sector. These, no doubt, are laudable and noble objectives, which ought to have been achieved. The question is, had the privatisation of the plantations achieved such laudable and noble goal and objective ? Have not the very mechanisms of privatization that were recommended in Ministry Report, been contradictory to the achievement of such laudable and noble goal and objective, and irreconcilable therewith ?   

G. L. Peiris, as then Minister of Justice & Deputy Minister of Finance (now Minister of External Affairs i.e. Foreign Affairs), formulated and introduced in Parliament, to re-vest and deal with previous failed privatisations – one could say a retroactive piece of legislation, but justifiably so, and had exhorted that the Government will invoke criminal and civil jurisdiction against those, who had caused such loss to the Government. Former Finance Minister Ronnie de Mel readily agreed and even urged the government to do more to bring those, who have caused the defraud of the Government, to book. In response to the exhortations by the former Finance Minister, Ronnie de Mel, urging the government to take more action to bring to book those responsible, Minister G. L. Peiris, in reply, inter-alia, stated on the floor of Parliament; – “We are on the right track. The Hon. Ronnie de Mel’s complaint is that we are not doing enough. But we will invoke both the criminal and the civil laws of the country to pursue these people and make them pay what is due not only to the State ….”. However, this never ever did happen !

Was it not in conformity with such policies and the rule of law, that then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar decried thus:

 “What has occurred in the Puttalam Cement affair is a gross and calculated fraud on the Government and the People of this country.” …. “I would strongly press on my colleagues with respect, the fundamental desirability of making clear to the private sector, both local and foreign, that this Government means what it says – that it will not tolerate malpractice in the market and that it will not condone and perpetuate malpractice where it has occurred” … “I repeat that I am deeply troubled. Those of us who wish to see that at least the basic tenets of honest Government are observed by our Government cannot rest content until this matter is fully investigated ” – Laudable words no doubt !

Nevertheless, Minister G. L. Peiris, who even introduced retroactive legislation for a limited purpose, failed and neglected to invoke the provisions of the applicable and enforceable law under the Bribery Act, dealing specifically with losses caused to the Government, which he himself formulated and introduced in October 1994 to be enacted in to law by Parliament.

Though public condemnation was made by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, also the Minister of Finance, and by Deputy Finance Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, however, the Government of Sri Lanka failed to lawfully deal with the said institutions and/or the said matter, presumably because Rajan Asirwatham (Senior Partner, KPMG Ford Rhodes Thornton & Co.) was a confidante of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, and had paved the way for his friend G.L. Peiris to have entered the political arena, clearly demonstrating the hypocritical duplicitous realities by the following reports in the media.

Questionably, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga did not direct, that action be taken against all those, who had been responsible and accountable for this scandalous transaction, inasmuch as she had been reported to have stated that – “No room will be left for this kind of dishonest and fraudulent actions”

These privatisations of the plantation companies were carried out by the Public Enterprises Reform Commission, which functioned under the purview, control and direction of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who in her Government’s Policy Statement made to Parliament in January 1995 ironically stated thus:

 “In the name of privatisation, the past regime had engaged in virtual daylight robbery of valuable national assets.  In most cases, the award of contracts had violated all accepted norms and procedures……. Many of these ventures were grossly undervalued by reducing their sale price by as much as 2/3rd or 3/4th of the actual value.….. Nowhere in the entire world would you come across such brazen pillage and plunder of a people’s wealth .….. They have only succeeded in enriching some powerful persons close to the leadership of the last regime.”

“The government’s approach to privatisation will be distinguished by full transparency and accountability which have been notoriously absent in the past.  There will be no crony privatisation in the future …… We have also to ensure that the process of government is transparent and free of corruption, and that everyone in public life is accountable for their actions.”

A very noble and laudable policy pronouncement indeed ! However, do not the above castigations amply fit the dubious manner in which the privatisations of the plantation companies have been carried out by Public Enterprises Reform Commission, in blatant violation of such governmental policy pronounced, with no one in public life responsible for such dubious deals, held accountable, and thereby rendering such governmental policy pronouncement to be mere rhetoric ?

How did the IMF, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, who had pushed for privatization endorse and/or ‘turn a blind eye’ to such pillage and plunder of public property, which belonged to the poor people of Sri Lanka ? Is the cure and remedy the providing of poverty alleviations programs, that too, funded by the very resources of the poor people and/or by further debts, being incurred by them ?