- Hundreds of millions paid to British PR Firm for 2018 Commonwealth Games bid
- The Indian government spent $ 8.5 billion to host the Commonwealth Games, which turned out to be a national disaster
By Frederica Jansz
The Sri Lankan government is reportedly paying a top British PR firm about 3 million sterling pounds (Rs. 545,880,000) a year to try to enhance the country’s post-war image. The Sunday Leader spoke to Central Bank Governor, Ajith Nivard Cabraal who maintained that, “many agencies are terribly tarnishing the country’s post war image. So we have to counter attack by taking steps to boost the country’s image.” Cabraal however refused to divulge the government’s plan on how exactly it intended boosting the country’s image or if indeed over Rs. 500 million has been paid to the British PR firm.
“I cannot reveal as to how we are going to do it. It is our duty by the country to boost the image and we would certainly do it. No question over it,” Cabraal said. Ajith Nivard Cabraal, is also co-chairman of the committee organising the Hambantota 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Reliable sources who requested anonymity told The Sunday Leader that hundreds of millions of rupees have been paid to Bell Pottinger to improve the country’s image in advance of Sri Lanka making a bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Over the past few years, the Indian government spent $ 8.5 billion to host the Commonwealth Games (CWG), a multi sport event akin to the Olympics, which were held in New Delhi from October 3 through 14, 2010. The official purpose of the CWG was to generate “national prestige” for India. But the Games did no such thing. In fact, the CWG were a national disaster.
Meanwhile, on January 31, President Mahinda Rajapaksa joined the Co-Chairs of Sri Lanka’s bid to bring ‘the island jewel of the Indian Ocean’ its first Commonwealth Games in unveiling the Hambantota 2018 emblem.
Opening the proceedings at his office, Temple Trees, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said: “This launch of Hambantota’s 2018 Commonwealth Games emblem signifies the rapid progress Sri Lanka is making since the tsunami and the end of terrorism. We are moving forward together as one nation and look forward to the opportunity of welcoming our friends throughout the Commonwealth to Sri Lanka and Hambantota in 2018. Our bid for the 2018 Games is also an important message to everyone in the country that we are an ambitious nation, growing rapidly in economic and social development.”
The BBC Sinhala Sandeshaya Service last week also reported that it reliably understood that the Sri Lankan government is paying a top British PR firm about £ 3 million ($ 4.7m) a year to try to enhance the country’s post-war image.
The BBC quoted a Sri Lankan government source who did not want to be named, confirmed to the BBC that the amount paid to Bell Pottinger was in the region of £ 3 million this year.
The government says it employs several PR companies but will not disclose their names or the amount paid. Bell Pottinger did not respond when contacted by The Sunday Leader and have been quoted by the BBC as also having refused to give details.
Last month the firm helped promote the UK visit of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, who gave the keynote speech at London’s International Institute of Strategic Studies.
The millions of rupees forked out to the British PR firm come as Sri Lankan households are creaking under the cost of rising food prices. Most essential food items are selling at an all time high making the daily grind even more difficult to bear. World events, poor weather globally and short term planning have all conspired to burden the average household.
- ‘Inconvenient and difficult decisions also necessary rather
than popular decisions that will lead to darkness’ – MR
President Mahinda Rajapaksa Calls For Attitudinal Change
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the nation at the sixty third Independence Day celebrations held in Kataragama on Friday February 4, stressed that the people of our country must change their attitudes in order to help future progress of the country.
“There is the need for an enormous attitudinal change from children to adults to achieve national development,” President Rajapaksa said.
”Similar to the success of our conviction that terrorism could be defeated, we have also shown our ability to build large power stations at Norochcholai, Upper Kothmale and Kerawalapitiya, build massive ports in Hambantota and Colombo, develop major irrigation schemes as in Moragahakanda and Uma Oya, and make our cities clean, he said.
“We now face the immense challenge of restoring all that was lost to the nation, except the lives of those lost, in the thirty years of terrorism. The history of the world has shown that it needs a great deal of time to rebuild a nation that has faced such devastation,” he added, reiterating, “The country cannot be developed solely on popular decisions. Inconvenient and difficult decisions are also necessary for the nation’s progress. It is the nation’s responsibility to take hard and difficult decisions to bring light to the future of our children, rather than take popular decisions that will lead them to darkness ahead.”