- This issue has raised many questions like why CICT generously ‘donated’ such a huge amount of money to a ‘charity’
- The ‘donation’ had been remitted to Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation by CICT through The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (cheque No. 594691) to the Foundation’s account (No. 204-1-001-5-0003290) maintained at Peoples Bank
- As the money for this donation too had been documented as construction costs, the taxpayers are forced to bear a certain percentage of this amount
- But nowhere in the world is a donation that was made considered as a construction cost
- According to the view of the Auditor General, this accounting treatment is not acceptable and this has been mentioned in the audit query that we have sent to you on November 27, 2016
- Action has to be taken against both these former officials for aiding and abetting the Rajapaksas to solicit a commission
Following the revelations made by the New York Times as to how China Habour Engineering Company contributed money towards Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 2015 re-election during the presidential campaign, further details have now emerged. This is how Colombo International Container Terminals Limited (CICT) had ‘donated’ to a fund of a different member in the Rajapaksa family in 2012.
Although CICT in a press release, last week, reiterated that the payment they made was a donation in good faith, and a part of their commitment towards their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, the is now in possession of a set of documents which indicates otherwise and how the donor company – CICT -does not intend to answer any of the questions this newspaper posed to them with regard to the said payment.
The lucky beneficiary The Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation situated at 78, Rosmead Place, Colombo 7. The chairperson of this foundation was Pushpa Rajapaksa, wife of then Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa. This ‘charity’ organization had received Rs.19.41 million from CICT, the company that was offered the contract to Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) the Colombo South Port Terminal. However, this issue has raised questions like why CICT generously ‘donated’ such a large amount of money to a ‘charity’ during their pre-operational stage. Questions are also asked as to on what basis this Foundation was chosen when there are many charity organizations in Sri Lanka that are in dire need of funds to carry out their work.
The ‘donation’ had been remitted to Pushpa Rajapaksa Foundation by CICT through The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (cheque No. 594691) to the Foundation’s account (No. 204-1-001-5-0003290) maintained at Peoples Bank (Headquarters) on May 21, 2012.
CICT is a Chinese company affiliated to China Merchant Holding International. This company was specially incorporated to BOT the Colombo South Port Terminal Project and owns 85% shares while Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) owns the remaining shares. The Board of Directors at the time this donation was made were Jianhua Hu (Chairman), Yuklau Lam, Yunshu Lid (Executive Director), Rizhong Zhang, Weidong Deng, Yubin Li, Zhenwu She, Sun Ligan (Alternate Director), then Chairman SLPA, Priyath Bandu Wickrema and Managing Director SLPA Nihal Keppettipola.
Questions are raised as to why CICT, after making a donation to this Foundation, documented the said amount of Rs.19.41 million as part of the Colombo South Port Development construction cost? According to Clause 62.3 of the agreement, CICT and SLPA had entered into, it had been agreed to pay the CICT a certain percentage of the value of the construction cost of the terminal infrastructure after the completion of the contract period of 35 years.
Clause 62.3 says, ‘If this Agreement is terminated on expiry of the Term of this Agreement, the Ports Authority shall pay the Terminatiown Compensation to the Operator as follows- (a) take over the Terminal Infrastructure without any compensation to the Operator and, (b) pay the Operator the net book value of the Movable Assets and facilities existing at the Terminal on the Termination Date as Termination Compensation’.
As the money for this donation too had been documented as construction costs, the taxpayers have to bear a certain percentage of this amount (Rs.19.41 million).
SLPA confirmed with this newspaper that they will have to pay CICT the net book value of the movable assets and facilities existing at the terminal, when the term of agreement expires.
As per the documents, this newspaper is in possession of, they reveal that the management of CICT had accepted that they had capitalized on this expense included as construction costs. When, one of their officers, Ms. Catriona Jayasundera, was contacted to obtain a comment on the much speculated ‘donation’, this newspaper was requested to send the questions via e-mail to which they would respond to at the earliest. Hence, six questions were forwarded to Ms. Jayasundera on Friday July 13, but instead the e-mail received on July 16 (Monday) afternoon did not carry answers to any of the questions. Instead the CICT spokesperson wanted to refer to a press release claiming that what they have to is included in this document. The questions that were forwarded to CICT are: