Rs.700 mn spent on refurbishing Ranil’s office


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sajin lashes out at Harsha over ‘naming and shaming’ proposal

Galle District MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena yesterday revealed that the previous UNP-led government had ordered an electronic documentation storage system at a staggering cost of Rs. 700 mn.

The system envisaged providing three desk top computers to each officer attached to the Office of the then Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, MP Gunawardena said.

The SLFPer challenged UNP National List MP Harsha de Silva to comment on the Rs. 700 mn deal as the latter recently declared that ‘naming and shaming’ of those corrupt politicians, officials and businessmen could help Sri Lanka’s battle against corruption.

MP Gunawardena was responding to a front-page statement captioned ‘naming and shaming is the way to go’ attributed to MP de Silva in the Sept. 4 issue of The Island.

Making a statement on behalf of the UPFA, Gunawardena said that Opposition MPs had the right to target the incumbent government over waste, corruption and irregularities. "We will not interfere with their campaign. But they shouldn’t expect us to be quiet and allow them to engage in UPFA bashing," he said. Asked whether the UPFA opposed ‘naming and shaming’ as part of a strategy to tackle corruption, the UPFA MP said that he fully agreed with MP de Silva’s move. But the UNP, too, should explain its conduct, he said, emphasising that it would be a grave mistake on the part of the likes of de Silva to talk as if the UNP had done nothing wrong.

The UPFA would like to know who had ordered an electronic documentation storage system for the then PM’s office. For this exorbitant amount, every officer, attached to the PM’s office, received three desk top computers, each––one for word processing, one for scanning and storing documents and the other as a back-up.

Gunawardena said: "Name all individuals and companies, which benefited from controversial tax exemptions commonly known as the ‘badu sahanaya’ given by the UNP-led UNF administration when Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister. I’m sure people will love to know the identities of the beneficiaries with amounts." 

The UNP should also reveal the tax exemptions given to the LTTE, the MP said. Those preaching to the UPFA of transparency and accountability had even paid taxes using funds received from foreign sources on behalf of the LTTE, he said. The controversy over the government of Norway and the UNP facilitating the LTTE move to acquire state-of-the art communication equipment was only the tip of the iceberg, the MP said. MP de Silva should spend some of his time investigating the UNP, Gunawardena said, recalling the UNP arming and funding the LTTE in the run-up to Eelam war II. MP de Silva should inquire from his masters regarding massive funding received by various persons and organisations during the CFA for various projects, which were detrimental to the country.

"Who is responsible for providing statistics for formulating the Price Index? Especially in charge exclusively of the Dambulla Economic Centre. Which company does this? For how long? How much have they been paid? Who owns this company," he queried.

Referring to a simmering controversy over sharing of National List slots secured by the UNP, Gunawardena asked who had wanted two National List seats in parliament sold. "Why was it not spoken of before? How did MP Harsha de Silva become an appointed MP?"

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