| by Gunadeera Rajakaruna
( April 17, 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Bandaranayake Memorial International Conference Hall, known among every one as BMICH was very busy during the last week of February (24th Friday), with University Convocations and a very important exhibition staged by the Sri Lankan Institute of Architects. As the invitations were delivered to me by a certain Architect friend of mine I took with me two of my colleagues, one a very successful Architect from Britain and the other colleague a Chinese Architect running a very successful Architectural Consultancy in Hong Kong. Our mission was to check what Sri Lankan Architects can do with their knowledge to ease the housing shortage in Sri Lanka in a affordable manner. The BMICH was full of very smartly dress young men and women who has come to the University Convocations and to visit the Architectural exhibition with their parents and other well wishers..
How much Gotabaya Rajapaksa, should have earned, when he worked prior to running away from the Army in 1991 as a Lt Colonel, or as a Stores A/manager for a 7/11 shop in USA before joining Loyola College as an Computer Administrator ?
But, we were taken by surprise to see some well built young men participating in very strange events in the MBICH grounds, normally occupied by civilians, as the BMICH is a civilian organization since it was constructed in 1972. But the BMICH and the entire ground is now turn into a Military Camp as it houses the headquarters of the Rakna Aracksha Lanka Ltd. (also know as RALL) – the most powerful security company in Sri Lanka owned by Gotabaya Rajapaksa the Secretary of Defence. Private Security companies are plenty in Sri Lanka; each company is not much different to any other, providing unarmed security to government and private establishments and private properties. Among them, Avant Guard started by ex-Commando Major Nissanka Senadhipathy became more dominant, solely due to the business acumen of key individuals. However, even Avant Guard is no match; RALL looks far ahead, powerful and sadly, aloof from all other companies.
What is RALL and who owns it?
The share holders of RALL are Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary is the Chairman of this private company.(major share holder), other two share holders are former Attorney General and present adviser to the GOSL Mr. Mohan Peiris PC, and Mr. Jayantha Wickramasinghe, CEO/MD Lanka Logistics. The same three individuals hold the major shares in Lanka Logistics, the Company established by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as Chairman, to purchase Arms and other military equipments worth over US $ 1 billion for the Tri-Service, violating the NPA Guidelines. But, this same Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mr. Mohan Peiris former AG, along with the present Army Commander Lt. General Jagath Jayasooriya, charged former Army Commander General Fonseka for a small violation of the NPA guidelines for not divulging his connection to a person who was not even a contender for a tender for the purchase of Night Vision Glasses to the Army, to the value of Rs. 2.3 million ( US $ 230,000) and sentence him to 30 months imprisonment.
The board of Directors of RALL are, Mr. Mahinda Saliya (Budget Dept – Treasury), Udeni Wickramasinghe (Additional Secretary – Technical, Defense Ministry), Siripala Hettiarachchi (Additional Secretary – Defense Ministry), Mrs.Leisha Chandrasena (company secretary). These are civilians unknown to many Sri Lankans who have never managed a security establishment, or even held a gun or even heard the firing of a gun during the LTTE war. Neither, of them are professionals in business management or is having experience in directing a security organization like RALL. Major General W.P. Palitha Fernando, Adviser to the DS-MOD, the close ally & classmate of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who impersonated Gotabaya in the Captain to Major examination held by the Army several decades ago, is running the RALL with Major General Egodawaththa from the Gemunu watch. What is crystal clear is that NONE of them would ever utter a word against the wishes of the Secretary of Defense Gotabhaya Rajapakse (GR) – so powerful and dominant brother of the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa. That means, the ultimate authority in the RALL is with none other than GR and W.P.P Fernando and Egodawaththa gets a large pay packet for his work for GR in addition to the money they earn from the MOD.
Private security companies were never a very flourishing business and profitable industry in Sri Lanka, neither there was a shortage in the supply. Then, why should mighty Government enter into competition with small private companies virtually thrashing them everywhere it enters? RALL, if the company is so efficient and versatile, why not perform in the industries it has already entered, say, Sri Lankan Air Lines, Universities, Health, Transport and Construction Industry and overpower the private sector? Why not start Hydropower generation and send Harry Jayewardene’s so expensive diesel power plants to the extinct? Why not start the solar power farm at Hambantota freeing it from the greedy brokering clutches the “Baby (Namal)”?
How costly is to engage RALL?
According to Cabinet Minister & the Chief Government Whip Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena, answering a question from the DNA- MP Hon. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, in the Parliament stated that RALL has earned Rs.940.5 million approximately, during the last F/Y. He further stated that a security guard employed by RALL earns Rs.21, 500 per month on a 12 hour shift in very risky areas without any OT. There are nearly 2520 employees working for RALL and if an employee is paid the above salary/wages and with all other expenses, including establishment charges and administration cost, Directors fees, uniforms and transport, a round figure of Rs.100,000 per years (exaggerated amount) can be assumed as the expenses in employing the 2520 employees. The total cost will be approximately Rs 250 million per year. If so who gets the balance Rs 670 million earned by employing RALL security personals. How much Gotabaya Rajapaksa, should have earned, when he worked prior to running away from the Army in 1991 as a Lt Colonel, or as a Stores A/manager for a 7/11 shop in USA before joining Loyola College as an Computer Administrator ?
Why President Mahinda Rajapaksa or any appropriate authority, like the Auditor General keep silent of this gross mis-appropriation of government (Tax payers) money and take some stern action to control the cost of hiring these guards to government ministries, departments and semi-government organizations, as the money Gotabaya gets as profit is the public money, which he is not entitle to earn in this manner. He holds a Public Service job as the Secretary of Defence, other wise known as the Line Secretary responsible for Administrations of the Ministry of Defence. He is the Chairman of many Private Organisations and may be getting paid handsomely from those organizations for just sitting for few hours a month.
The Public Service regulations –Finance and Administration, – does not allow any Ministry Secretary to hold any other position in a privately establish company even he is the brother of the President of Sri Lanka. Are these same privileges are extended to other secretaries to establish companies and earn millions of rupees in addition to their usual salary?
Why RALL was training their guards?
The question everybody was asking after watching what RALL was doing at the MBICH on February 24th Friday? What we witnessed that day was, about 2 platoons (about 80-100) strong and very sturdy looking men in dark blue trousers and light blue short sleeved shirts were getting ready for a big move. They were packing their bags on the grass area, just outside the office building. What was more surprising was, that they were packing and keeping LMG (Light machine guns), GPMG (General-purpose machine guns), and Five Zero heavy guns on the grass area. We watched with bewilderment with wide open eyes, what was going on. As Ex- senior officers of the Army’s of our respective countries, we were shocked to see a normal security company used to employ un-armed security guards, forcing them to train very hard, with all these heavy (killing) equipments. We three and all other civilians in the crowed, dared to move closer to see what they were doing, as every one was taken by surprise to see all these heavy weapons in a place like BMICH.
Each security guard (soldier) seems to have been issued with a new potable sleeping bag and some bare essentials. Were they getting ready for war on a foreign land or in the Indian Ocean? Or are they getting ready for a sea battle with LTTE terrorist supported by KP with all inside information, or sea pirates in the Indian Ocean or to defend Sri Lanka as stipulated in the nicely written Mission, Vision and Objectives of RALL from the Indian and American Forces, trying to invade Sri Lanka?
Then why they get this special training?
They were trained to be secretly packed for the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf to undertake Somalia anti piracy operations. What a smart move by Sri Lanka? They have world-class soldiers and sailors who are virtually idling after defeating the world’s deadliest terrorist organization. But why use security guards, not trained to used heavy guns to fight these Somali pirates, climb into ships in very dangerous waters and in a very sloppy manner, to fight the Somali and Yemen pirates along the coastal lines and International waters.
According to a very senior Naval Officer these Anti-piracy operations were handled by their anti-piracy Units in the Navy, but after bringing the LTTE ship to Sri Lanka and few other anti-privacy works, they were kept idle by the DS Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Suddenly, Gotabaya Rajapaksa wanted the Senior Officers to train these RALL security Guards. These RALL security guards:
- Were trained at the expense of the general public.
- They are using the weaponry of the state, from the Central armoury.
- They are transported in Sri Lanka by the ports Authority vehicles and sometimes in Navy vehicles.
- In fact, they carry the authority of Sri Lankan armed forces at considerable costs to the general public.
- RALL is not accountable to income tax.
- RALL is not subjected to the EPF, ETF or VAT.
- When a poor housemaid goes abroad, officials of the Foreign Employment Bureau squeeze the blood out of the maid unless the specific tax is paid. If not, no going. However, RALL is free from those encumbrances.
The GOSL without the remittance from these poor workers from Middle East now facing lot of difficulties to balance the Foreign Debts. and the Trade deficit.
But, who gets the income.
GOTABHAYA RAJAPAKSE, the Defence Secretary. This same Gotabaya Rajapaksa was unemployed and penniless; when he landed n LA, with the assistance of the Christian Church group after the assassination of General Ranjan Wijerathna the D/Defence Minster. Further, he was fed by the Bhante of the Temple with Dane brought by Dayakas of the LA Temple for nearly two months and generously helped him with money for his day to day expenses. As to pay back the services rendered to him by this Priest Rev. Piyananda, he was appointed as an Adviser to the President Rajapaksa as well as Gotabaya Rajapaksa. When this priest visit Sri Lanka, he gets a MOD vehicle and a PSD driver and government ( or the Tax payer) pay the bill.
Peace be upon Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Peace is on the Rs.940 million he received for the last F/Y by engaging RALL virtually by displacing all other security companies under Presidential orders.
Is this is his private business or the profit he gets is for ending the war? Unfortunately, for the man who ended the 30 years of LTTE war, is unable to stop the “White Van menace” of kidnapping Rich people from various walks of life from all parts of the country?.
Employing the Security Guards from RALL on Anti-privacy duties, on a realistic estimate, the income Gotabaya will earn per month may be about (protection for 120 ships x US $ 200,000 per ship per month in average) = US 24,000,000 per month. (This is the amount paid to Navy for employing Navy personals on anti-piracy work). My 8-digit calculator cannot convert this to Sri Lankan currency, thanks to his own brothers fine economic (mis)management led new exchange rate(s). Please convert it and check to yourself.
But this same Gotabaya Rajapaksa who made billions from procuring Arms and Military equipments using Lanka Logistic the company he established and now with RALL he is very safe. None can charge him or bring any charges against his illegal work to make money using government equipment, premises and transport?
But that “bad man” General Fonseka should be locked in prison cell “for life” for purchasing Night Vision glasses & few binoculars to the Army, which won the Nandikadal battle by elimination the LTTE.