State plantations were debt- free at time of handover, retired planter says
Sunday Times , 2018-11-18
State plantations were handed over to the companies “debt-free” when the Treasury at the time absorbed nearly Rs.8 billion in loans, ex-planter and immediate past President of the Mascots Devaka Wickramasuriya said at the recently concluded AGM of the association that represents ex-planters from Maskeliya and Upcot.
He noted that though the cost of these loans should have been transferred to the RPCs, those handling the exercise of privatisation of the plantations had not brought this prudent position to the notice of the Treasury.
Mr. Wickramasuriya also noted that the ad hoc manner in which the controlling interest of “profit making” RPCs were sold, without competitive bidding at the par value of Rs.10 resulted in a loss of approximately Rs.1.8 billion to the government when the RPCs offered for sale shares on the stock exchange at a price of Rs.35 per share.
Mr. Wickramasuriya further stated that some RPCs received concessions in their Indentures of Lease not applicable to other RPCs and ironically those who were tasked with the exercise of privatization of plantations at the Plantation Reform Unit (PRU) were successful in obtaining lucrative employment in these very same RPCs to whom these special concessions were given to.
Having held the post of President for 15 consecutive years – initially with the Association of Ex-planters of Maskeliya and thereafter The Mascots – Mr. Wickramasuriya relinquished office as President with Sarath Sirisena being appointed to succeed him. The others appointed were: Vice President Sunil Wickramasinghe, Secretary Devaka Wickramasuriya, Treasurer Hemannath Wickremesooriya; Committee Members – Gnana Samaratunga, Winston Rupasinghe, Harin de Costa, Manoj Pathiraja, Asanka de Tissera; and Trustees: Tilak de Zoysa, Manik Pereira and Randy McLeod.
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