CaFFE Chief accuses some top civil servants of driving away investors by demanding kickbacks
Some unscrupulous senior civil servants demand money from foreign investors and that is one of the main reasons why Sri Lanka is short of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, Executive Director of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) says.
Commenting on the arrest of Maithripala Maithripala Sirisena’s Chief of Staff, Dr. I. H. K. Mahanama allegedly in the act of taking a bribe from an Indian investor.
Tennakoon said that a number of anti-corruption groups had accused of Mahanama of corruption in 2016, when he was the Secretary to the Ministry of Lands. "The head of the BoI at that time was Upul Jayasuriya, who responded by saying that although he approved investments, Secretary to the ministry of Lands, Dr. Mahanama and another ministry secretary delayed the proposed projects unnecessarily. The government leaders had smoked out Jayasuriya for making those allegations, Tennakoon said.
One of the tactics used by corrupt public officials, who prepared Cabinet papers was to make it difficult for investors to commence their projects, unless bribes were paid. "For example Mahanama deliberately delayed the USD 100 million project to establish a new sugar factory in Kantale and interfered in the Cabinet-approved sale of discarded machinery and scrap iron belonging to the Kantale Sugar factory.".
Tennakoon added that the Indian businessman, who headed M. G. Sugars Lanka (Pvt) Ltd and agreed to invest USD 100 million to revive and restructure the Kantale Sugar factory, had been working in Sri Lanka in 1994. "He has high level connections. That is why he endured through for three years despite continuous obstacles placed in his path by Mahanama. Anyone else would have left and warned his friends not to invest in Sri Lanka."