The long forgotten ’Sport Bar’ and the Good Governance’s ravaged projects

The long forgotten ’Sport Bar’ and the Good Governance’s ravaged projects

2 August 2020 01:07 pm

The Good Governance government elected in 2015 overthrew its predecessor the Rajapaksa regime based on a number of irregularities, corruption, suppression and economic deformities alleged by a vast majority.

Some parties called the Rajapaksa governance's economic system a 'ravaged economy' (Aalapaalu Arthikaya), following which the Good Governance government came to power showing statistics on commissions amounting to billions of rupees received to politicians and top state officials on government-run development projects, thereby pledging before the public that it would put an end to all this in order to carry out a pro-people development.  

In 2018, the Board of Directors of the Waters Edge Hotel, Battaramulla, which is operating under the government's control, was presented a board of directors paper proposing a restaurant, namely Sports Bar, made of container boxes. The board of directors paper numbered 11/2018 was tabled on a board meeting held on February 23, 2018. 

An initial budget amounting Rs. 10 million was requested to undertake the project and was approved by the Board of Directors. However, an audit in to the project revealed that it had not been discussed at any board meeting prior to the board meeting approving the project, conclusive of the fact that the project was initiated by deviating from the proper methodology.  

The Board of Directors had submitted two more papers on the Sport Bar Restaurant project on June 28, 2018 and another on July 23, 2018, to pay the consulting company (38/2018) of the project, the architects (43/2018) and for obtaining approval for the initial estimated cost of the project (49/2018).

However, a Cabinet Memorandum, numbered 11/2018, approved on February 23, 2018, prior to the board papers, states that the project was to be implemented in a manner that does not harm the basic plans provided by the architects, conclusive that the activities of the project were commenced even before the board approval was obtained. 

The Board of Directors have not paid any attention in this regard yet, according to audit report.

The Board of Directors had approved the Rs. 10 mn allocation for the project, but the report does not specify the purpose for which the money was to be spent, nor had the board paid attention into the matter. 

A company namely Lakshman Ramanayake & Association has been selected as the consulting firm for this project, but the methodology followed is not specified, and the procurement guidelines have not been adhered to, according to Auditor General. Nevertheless, this had been approved by the Board through paper, 38/2018.

In addition, an expenditure estimate of Rs. 57.6 million (Rs. 57,619,059) had been submitted to the Board of Directors for approval under Paper 49/2018 and the Board of Directors had approved to spend Rs. 40 million in lieu of the relevant amount, evidence showed. Although the expenditure estimate was approved, but contains a list of expenditure which does not add the essentials but the statistics. A cash estimate of public funds does not include in the value of each item, nor the number of items required and the criteria on which these calculations are based.  

The Board of Directors had approved Rs. 40 million to replace the requested amount, but no expenditure estimate has been submitted so far.

The project was being constructed on a land not owned by the Waters Edge Hotel and the Board of Directors had approved the aforementioned amount without any consideration.

 Also, a Feasibility Study Report on the project was requested at the time of the submission of the first Board Paper, however no such report was ever submitted since the initiation of the project, raising serious issues.

Since the building used for the Sport Bar restaurant is located in a residential area, special attention should have been paid the possibility of running such a project in such a location, as per the view of the Auditor General in the report, which brings us to denote that no such attention was ever paid, neither addressed within the Board.  

The procurement process for the project had also been carried out without any transparency and the Waters Edge administration had failed to submit reports on the selection of contractors for the Sport Bar project, the selection of the required raw material suppliers, etc.

Two contractors had been selected to provide manpower for the project and the contractors had submitted different bids on different occasions for each work, which according to the audit were false documents. 

There is no date stamp in the relevant letters, and it is not possible to identify whether they were received by registered mail or hand, the report disclosed.

The level of carelessness of the officials in charge of the project is high enough detect that no record was ever made on the number of workers adhered to the project, their working days and the number of workers enrolled for each task. No steps were taken to maintain or record the daily attendance / departure.  

Contradictory and dubious methods had been adopted in purchasing goods and services required for the project, according to Auditor General, further revealing that this project replaces the market price comparison methodology used to purchase low value and instant purchases of items and services in their newspaper advertisements, however, cites high value items were bought through the very system.
Purchases made on 54 occasions without assuming such proper procedures had resulted in a payment of Rs. 14,943,625 and the market price comparison method was followed for all of them.

The Board of Directors had approved an expenditure of Rs. 40 million, but the total amount spent on this project, which was incepted in 2018, was Rs. 52,890,111 by March 12, 2020, over two years. Accordingly, more than the allocated amount were spent on the project, and more than two years had elapsed since the commencement of the project, whilst failing to accomplish completion even by March, 2020. 

The project would have been completed within the stipulated time if proper procedures had been followed from the outset and bids were duly bid for and a suitable contractor had been assigned, the Auditor General's reports pointed out. 

It is rather unorthodox that the state machinery had failed to implement even such a simple project, raising plausible suspicions whether such projects were being carried out for exploitation and commissions.  

Leaders who advocated for Good Governance called on the people at the end of 2014 to unite to end the corrupt and fraudulent regime, join to end mega deals once and for all, to end illegal and repressive rule. They called on the people to unite to create the so called 'pro-people economy' instead of the ravaged economy adopted by the previous regime. Needless to remind that they also pledged before the public that they would enforce law against every single one who was responsible for the wasted economy and the corruption. 

62-lakhs of people had voted for the Good Governance believing that they had changed the course of politics in Sri Lanka deceived by the most beautiful words. 

However, tragedy followed as the public was compelled to experience Good Governance deals instead of mega deals, thereby being witnesses to how the Good Governance government too had protected the corrupt, frauds and looters.  

In the end, people who had voted for a 'Good Governance' had to wait and see how the very 'ravaged' theme was being adopted in the implementation of project, being wasted from the false promises for a so called pro-people economy.