The Ministry of Defense has decided that Muditha Jayakody Associates Ltd, the lead consultant firm for the project of constructing the Defense Headquarters in Akuregoda, must pay back excess money it accepted.
“Gotabaya requested me to award the contract to Muditha Jayakody’s firm without calling for tenders,” former Central Bank Governor Ajith Niward Cabral said in 2016 before the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID). He didn’t refer to the Defense Headquarters in Akuregoda; in fact, he spoke of the building in which the FCID is situated. Muditha Jayakody had condescendingly stated “I built this one too” during investigations, and subsequently, the former Central Bank Governor had to reveal the contract was awarded without calling for tenders.
At that time, Muditha Jayakody obtained contracts illegitimately. He is a close friend of former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Their friendship was so strong that he was even sent to Los Angeles on two occasions to advise on houses of Gotabaya and Basil located in Los Angeles.
Lanka News Web (LNW), on 24 May 2016, revealed information about the contracts regarding planning and construction of the Defense Headquarters in Akuregoda and Army School in Slave Island.
“Muditha Jayakody had obtained these massive contracts lying to the Army about his firm. He had told the Army that 20 architects and 30 engineers are working full-time under his firm. After the new government came into power, a cabinet sub-committee, based on information revealed through an investigation, cancelled this contract.”
The consultation contract related to the construction of the Akuregoda Defense Headquarters was given to Muditha Jayakody Associates Ltd based on a decision taken by the cabinet of ministers on 20 April 2006 and 3 February 2011. A decision taken by the cabinet of ministers on 18 July 2014 says 1.5 per cent of the total cost of the project must be given to Muditha Jayakody Associates as consultation fees.
No work was done, but spent time
The total cost of the construction of the Defense Headquarters is Rs 400,402 million, and 1.5 per cent of that amount is Rs 606.3 million. But the cost of the first phase of the project is Rs 55,672,788,535; and it was later calculated that if Muditha Jayakody had provided consultation services for the entire first phase of the project, Rs 835,091,828 should have been paid to his firm. It had been done in accordance with the decision taken by the cabinet of ministers on 18 July 2014.
Muditha Jayakoday continued to provide consultation services, and he said his firm had provided consultation services for the construction of the Akuregoda Defense Headquarters since 1 October 2011. Apparently, all these have happened without any agreement. It is the first sentence mentioned in the recommendations of the technical evaluation committee. Muditha Jayakody had been given an incredible power by those who rule the country, to obtain government contracts without an agreement. He calculated his charges based on time spent by workers. Even after payments due to his company were withheld according to the decision taken by the cabinet of ministers on 18 July 2014, he said the due consultation fee to his firm, for the period of November-30 September 2016, was Rs 901,942,058.03
Right to Information Commission’s intervention
After the defeat of the Rajapaksas, the new government on 5 August 2015 appointed a committee. The report of the committee led by G.S. Withanage was called ‘Withanage Committee Report’. The new Right to Information Law (Right to Information Act 2016) which came into force on 4 February 2017 clearly states that committee reports are considered ‘public documents’; however, authorities in the government attempted to keep it a ‘secret document’ even in year 2018. They forgot two facts; Lanka News Web had already published and publicized the entire Withanage Report, and the Right to Information Commission was active in the country. Two months ago, the commission, after taking into account the fact that the report had already been publicized, ordered to release the report. For over two years, the Attorney General’s Department refused to release the report before the Right to Information Commission.
The 9-page Withanage Committee Report describes how Muditha Jayakody’s firm misappropriated public funds.
Rajapaksa ghosts still active?
So far, only 54.8 per cent of the construction work of the Akuregoda Defense Headquarters has been finished. However, Muditha Jayakody Associates had charged an excess amount of Rs 32 million for work that wasn’t completed. It was stated in the cabinet paper on 23 May 2019 that it could have been prevented if there was a proper agreement.
Following are the three recommendations mentioned in the last page of the cabinet paper MOD/CP/FD/42/2019.
A) To submit a report explaining the following points.
1. The excess amount paid was actually Rs 32,948,764.58 for the 54.8 per cent of the construction work that was completed, if the consultation fee of 1.5 per cent was calculated based on the amended engineers’ estimation of Rs 835,091,828.03.
11. Due to the consultant not requesting an Extension of Time (EOT), the excess amount paid must be considered Rs 32,948,764.58.
B) Action must be taken, after obtaining Attorney General’s advice, to recover the excess amount paid to Muditha Jayakody Associates Pvt Ltd.
President Maithripala Sirisena, as the Defense Minister, has sought permission to implement the recommendations.
Will this massive amount of money be recovered? – the entire country watching. The facts that Muditha Jayakody Associates continued to provide services even after the new government was established, and authorities opposed releasing the Withanage Committee Report even in the early 2019, suggests that Rajapaksa’s ghosts are still active in the current regime. That is why Muditha Jayakody is still freely roaming in the society after defrauding such an astronomical amount of money. Elections are getting closer – people are waiting to see what will happen.