Lotus Tower linked China firm had relocated: Sri Lanka envoy

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Beijing had said a company linked to a telecom tower project, which President Maithripala Sirisena had said vanished had relocated and subsequently found, while a parliamentary watchdog committee official said it would launch a probe.

The contract to build the Lotus Tower project had been awarded China National Electronic Importers and Exporters Corporation (CEIEC) and Aerospace Long-March International Trade Co Ltd (ALIT), Ambassador Karunasena Kodithuwakku said in a letter released to the media.

President Sirisena had requested the embassy to get information about the firm in 2018 as letters written by Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications regulator to ALIT had been returned saying there was no such company at the location.

“After much effort, the embassy found that the company had moved to a different location, as well as withdrawn from the Lotus Tower project, without informing the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka,” Karunasena wrote.

“They then informed us that their company (ALIT) was no longer involved in the Lotus Tower project.”

President Sirisena had said that ALIT, which was a signatory to the original contract had gone away after a 2.0 billion rupee advance had been paid for the project.

China’s Exim Bank had promised to finance the project costed at 104 million US dollars but had pulled out after part-financing it, President said. Sri Lanka now had to pay 2.4 billion rupees in loan installments per year for 10 years, he said.

A former head of the telecom regulator Anusha Pelpita, in a facebook.com post disputed President Sirisena, saying payments had been made to CEIEC.

Any advances had been effectively recovered as progress payments were made later.

Meanwhile the head of Sri Lanka parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Sunil Handunetti said a probe will be launched on the project. (Colombo/Sept20/2010)

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