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It is finally out: The “never privatize” Government has privatized the best 20 acres of Sri Lanka even without a tender-Harsha

June 23, 2011, 9:43 pm

UNP National List MP Harsha de Silva lashed out at the government over the sale of 20 acres to two international buyers outside tender procedures. The MP alleges that the UPFA has privatized the best 20 acres of Sri Lanka even without a tender. The following is his full statement:

The Deputy Minister of Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene revealed in Parliament last evening (22 June 2011) that 20 acres of land opposite the Galle Face green has been privatized.  He accepted that it sold outright 10 acres to Shangri La Asia Limited and 10 more acres to China Aviation Technology Import Export Corporation (CATIC).  This contradicts numerous previous statements that this land was given out on long lease as privatization was not the policy of Mahinda Chinthana.

With respect to the price per perch the Deputy Minister failed to submit the valuation report but said the Government obtained three times the valuation.  The UNP completely rejects this blatant attempt at misleading the public.  Given the sale price of Rs 8.5m a perch for Shangri La it is absolutely not possible that the market price of a perch at Galle Face could only be Rs 2.8 million. We demand that the Government withdraw this false statement as it would otherwise point the finger at the Chief Valuer for having undervalued crown land; a serious allegation.  We also demand that the valuation report be made public immediately.  It has now been found out that this Government who made such a song and dance at the removal of 100 percent tax on sale of land to foreigners has sold the best 20 acres of this country without charging a single cent of tax. 

Furthermore it has now been revealed that no tenders were called prior to sale of either of the 10 acre plots purportedly to globally renowned leisure companies.  While we acknowledge Shangri La qualifies as one the top global players in the industry we reject outright that CATIC is even a mediocre player in the global leisure business.  In fact, CATIC is a fighter aircraft and missile manufacturer for the most part.  We find serious issue with the sale of the second 10 acres to CATIC without a tender procedure purportedly on the grounds that it is a top global leisure companies.        

The Deputy Minister also failed to reveal the date or dates of sale of the 20 acres of land.  This is crucial because Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa stated in Parliament on March 09 2011 that land will only be sold after the receipt of full payment.  So when was the land sold?  The Deputy Minister was unable to state when each of the 10 acre plots was sold. 

Furthermore the UNP is bewildered by the attempt by the Deputy Minister to obfuscate the treatment of the sale proceeds by stating that the privatization revenue has been included in the treasury general deposit account.  We demand full transparency of all activity related to this transaction including dates of sale, why tenders were not called for at least the 10 acres that was given to CATIC, why taxes were waived from both entities and how the sale proceeds were treated.   


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