By Faraz Shauketaly
Hot on the heels of the furore over revelations that Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) is to receive a Rs 393 million tax refund of monies already paid to the Inland Revenue, deep unhappiness over the restructuring of the BOI and the slow progress that Sri Lanka’s premier investment agency is making in terms of facilitating new investments, its Chief, Jayampathy Bandaranayake is said to have tendered his resignation.
Usually impeccable sources revealed that the resignation is yet to be accepted by the Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapaksa. It is expected that Bandaranayake will remain within his position until the end of March whilst the government persuades a new entrant to take over the reins. It is understood that the Treasury Secretary’s implicit concurrence is being awaited on the new appointment. Numerous telephone calls, SMS messages and an e-mail to the BOI has not elicited any official response.
Last week the beleaguered BOI Chief sent an e-mail assuring us that a response would be made in terms of the revelations that LIOC would receive a refund of Rs 393 million in taxes that the Indian led petroleum company had already paid.
Government ministers have expressed unhappiness that the BOI has failed to perform in spite of the Mahinda Chinthanaya assurances. The President has set up the necessary institutional and legal framework to facilitate decisions to be made within three months on all investment proposals. (Page 93 of the Mahinda Chinthanaya). However, the past year has seen remarkable delays with the only saving grace coming in the form of the Shangri La investment which in any event did not come within the purview of the BOI but under the Strategic Development Act.
The Board of Investment Sri Lanka, has a special unit dealing with PR and media requirements. However over the past week we have been unable to elicit a response from them: either on the information received that the BOI Chairman has tendered or is intending to tender his resignation and to our 10 Questions in connection with the LIOC tax refund matter.
Attempts to reach other departments of the BOI like Promotion and Monitoring were also unsuccessful. The BOI telephone operator informed all callers that due to the “restructuring” the telephone lines were not fully functional. Some senior personnel at BOI were also up in arms that appropriate office space had not been allocated precluding them from carrying out their duties. One managerial level employee told The Sunday Leader that never since its inception have the staff at the BOI been so “listless” and “demotivated” as they were now.
Staff who protested last week at the way in which the restructuring process was being carried out did not place the blame entirely on the BOI Board – they said that the Ministry Secretary too should take some of the responsibility for the lack of inclusive planning.