Bravo, Prez, but … – The Island
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa took swift action to prevent a shady deal that some state officials were scrambling to strike with a foreign company, which was seeking a contract, for a song, to extract ilmenite found in the red soil of overburden removed for limestone mining on a 5,352- acre land owned by the Sri Lanka Cement Corporation (SLCC) in Aruwakkalu. Last Thursday, the President instructed the Minister of Industries, Dr Ramesh Pathirana, to look into the matter and resolve it, we are told.
Fortunately, Dr. Pathirana remained above suspicion, but he must not allow corrupt officials to mislead him. If the dodgy deal had gone through, the state coffers would have lost a large amount of foreign currency and several senior officials would have laughed all the way to the bank. We exposed the racketeering in last Wednesday’s editorial.
President Rajapaksa deserves praise for his swift action, but be warned that corrupt elements in his government know more than one way to shoe a horse. They take advantage of the country’s desperation for foreign investment to make sneaky deals with foreign companies and fatten their offshore bank accounts.
SLCC and Sri Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd. (SLMSL) were to form a joint venture to mine ilmenite on the aforementioned lands, but the foreign company and its agents disguised as state officials got together and derailed it by making the SLMSL withdraw. The SLCC has since come under pressure to allow the foreign company to carry out the project by paying only royalties to the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB), which reeks of corruption. Many influential people, including foreign diplomats, SLPP politicians, state officials and their sons, are among those who tried to have the contract awarded to the company in question.
According to project documents The Island saw, the initial investment is around Rs. 1.9 billion, and the returns in the first six months alone will exceed Rs. 9 billion. No wonder so many corrupt officials are all set to push through the crooked deal.
It is the responsibility of Minister Pathirana to ensure that the foreign company concerned will pay a substantial amount of foreign exchange to the Cement Corporation/Treasury in addition to the royalties paid to the GSMB, and the agreement to be signed will be approved by the Ministry of the Attorney General . . A meeting of all stakeholders, including the Commissioner General of Lands, should be held to determine how much the company should pay the state so that corrupt officials cannot line their pockets at the expense of poor Sri Lankans, who suffer untold difficulties due to a lack of foreign currency. .
Crisis and cricket
It is a meritorious act to provide entertainment to unfortunate Sri Lankans in these dark times. As pumps run out at service stations, domestic cricketers have come forward to pump up the hapless public. Their performance on Sunday was truly fabulous. When they finished the most successful ODI run chase ever (292) against powerhouse Australia, in great style, crisis-hit Lanka let out a cry of delight.
What made Sri Lanka’s dramatic victory possible on Sunday was superb teamwork and a brilliant 170-race partnership between Pathum Nissanka, who racked up 137, and Kusal Mendis, who retired injured at 87. It’s not just in cricket that teamwork and partnerships are essential; they also matter in politics. If only President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe could build such a partnership and fight for the public with their team struggling to break the back of the economic crisis. But the one thing they seem to have in common with beaters, if any, is how they try to score; they also run in opposite directions with the aim of scoring points; politics is not cricket however and in doing so they thwart the country’s attempts to overcome the crisis.
Not even Gnana Acre may be able to predict what awaits our cricketers in regards to upcoming matches, but winning isn’t everything in cricket; what matters most is how the game is played.
If what we have seen over the past few days is anything to go by, our cricketers have demonstrated that they are ready to learn from their mistakes and improve their performance. They are apparently on the right track and one can only hope that the country’s leaders will want to emulate them.