Questions are being asked as to why the portion of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) held by NTT of Japan is being sold to Global Telecom Holdings (GTH) of Malaysia with utmost secrecy and urgency.
The legality of the whole exercise is further questioned as SLT is a public company, listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange. A little over 15% (15.3%) of the enterprise is held by the public, who flocked to purchase its shares during the IPO making it one of the most successful public offerings in Sri Lankan history.
Extract from News Reports:
"Given that 15.3% of the company is owned by the public, the fact that none of its 28,000 shareholders were informed of the deal is both illegal and unethical," UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera said at a press conference yesterday.
Jayasekera further said that tenders had not been called and normal procedure had been flouted in the process of drawing up the deal.
"Why would President Mahinda Rajapakse single handedly close the deal with a Malaysian company without looking at any other offers, unless he had some personal interest or a lot to gain monetarily, even at the cost of the country, from this deal?" Jayasekera questioned.
Jayasekera said the UNP had evidence to show the owners of the Malaysian company Global Telecom Holdings, which had purchased NTT’s shares, were close associates of President Mahinda Rajapakse, and moreover had helped him financially during his last presidential campaign.
"Not only have valuable national assets been sold to this company, but the deal also entitles Global Telecom Holdings to a TV Channel. Why these privileges?" Jayasekera further asked. He also inquired if Post and Telecommunications Minister Rauf Hakeem, under whose ministry telecommunications currently was, even knew about this deal.
"Sri Lanka Telecom is one of our profit making ventures, and the Mahinda Rajapakse regime before coming to power promised they would disallow privatization and deal with profit making institutions appropriately."
"Instead they’re blatantly selling public property," Jayasekera said.