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EDITORIAL: Fate of GKCC Depositors

(August 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Since the Sri Lanka Guardian carried an article last week highlighting the pitiful state of many of the smaller investors, there appears to be a hive of activity in the CBSL entrusted with handling the disposal of these funds - now in the safe hands of the State. In an interview last week the Chairman of the Panel of Chartered Accountants Prof. Lakshman Watawala seems to suggest lack of funds to carry out the Supreme Court order to pay the 2nd installment of Rs.200,000 each to the nearly 8,000 depositors.

Those within the Depositors associations say going by the Panel's own figures the last payment of Rs.100,000 to the depositors came to about Rs.700 million plus. And the sum needed to carry out the present Supreme Court order will be around Rs.1,500 million. Considering the generally accepted figure of Rs.28 billion (28,000 million) there should be, depositors say, little difficulty to making this 2nd installment available to these depositors - not out of the dire straits they have been thrust into. It will serve the interest of the depositors if the Central Bank makes an early announcement about their carrying out the directives of the Supreme Court.

Another matter of some considerable worry is the news item that announced the Panel appears to be over-paying themselves very large monthly sums as their own fees. While no one grudges some reasonable payment for each meeting and other services rendered by the panel, the CB Governor and his officials should make certain there is no room left for any further scandal here - with due respect to members of the panel. It is also hoped that the disposal of the valuable assets of Mr. Lalith Kotelawala and assets of the Golden Key Credit Card Company are done early, reasonably and transparently. As mentioned earlier, the recoverable value of the seized assets are now in the region in excess of Rs.50 billion - sufficient to pay all depositors at an early date their savings including reasonable interest from December 2008.

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