CCBSL and the CCA should move faster to bring relief to the smaller GKCC Depositors


(September 07, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Ever since we ran the article about the plight of GKCC Depositors (22/8/2010)who met with grief under the Lalith Kotelawala conglomerate, we are besieged by calls and other forms of communication by several anxious depositors expressing their deep appreciation. While we certainly will take up as many cases as we can in the interest of the public where they can be helped, in this particular instance, it must be said both the Supreme Court, President Mahinda Rajapkse and Governor/ CBSL have shown concern in their matter. While we agree faster and, perhaps, fuller relief expected would have been ideal - particular by those “smaller depositors” categorized in the article on 22/8/2010 - it may be recognized officialdom in this regard also has to move with circumspection. The sale of seized assets of high values and how, to whom these should be sold all come into play here in a sensitive matter that has engaged wide national interest.

Meanwhile, we appreciate some depositors have provided us with data in our quest to seek early relief to them. These statistics would normally be not accessible to us as an outside party. We incorporate some of this in this article and are confident relevant high sources referred to here – more specifically the Committee of Chartered Accountants - will come forward to help the smaller investors, who are despeate they are in unimaginable difficulties to run their homes and families.

The first plea here is in respect of the 2nd instalment of Rs.200, 000 which was a directive of the Supreme Court late last July in response to the several Cases filed – viz:- 191, 192, 197, 229, 244, 315, 365/09 as well others. From what we gather, these payments have not been made despite the passage of a month and half. Presumably, the CCA seeks Supreme Court permission initially and thereafter looks for buyers to dispose of assets to realize the sums required. Whereas depositors say, the method vice-versa can be far more effective. Depositors also suggest advertisements should be placed in the main newspapers both for the sake of propriety as well to attract foreign buyers.

It is learnt nearly 5,000 in the under Rs.1-2 million category can be paid off with about Rs.5 billion – an amount that is said to be well within the scope of the CCA on the basis of keen interest shown by potential buyers of GKCCC properties at what is considered “reasonable” values. Having this number of depositors removed from the longer list will be an achievement to the Committee, the CBSL and the government. Besides bringing grateful relief to the people concerned, it can be an example of concerned and responsive government for a regime that has been under fire from several angles in recent times.

Depositors also fear various forms of “imposed delays” by powerful interested parties can “step in to make a fast kill” They plead the authorities to continue to help them. They point out to the new element of the appointment of Mr. Mangala Boyagoda to value assets is a process that can involve much more time and extra expenditure. The feeling is the Committee itself has sufficient expertise within the three of them for valuations. These may be subject to the scrutiny of the Supreme Court, for good measure and due transparency . Much concern is also expressed very high fees are being claimed by the CCA. It is learnt the Committee has paid itself Rs.6 million for services rendered for 6 months - October 2009 to March 2010 which works out to a very high Rs.1 milion per month for what is considered to be a service with a social flavor to bring relief to multiple thousands of people struggling to live for the day. That the CCA has claimed another Rs.5.4 million makes some wonder whether anything will be left at all for them by the time this long-drawn matter comes to an end. Depositors do not grudge these professionals paying themselves something reasonable for their time and effort - but want to remind the village story of the man fallen from the tree to be gored by the bull should not be their next fate.