EDITORIAL: Small mercy for GKCC depositors

(July 04, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) After the recent 2nd payment of Rs.100,000 (as opposed to the Supreme Court directive to pay Rs.200,000) it is reported in a meeting facilitated by the CBSL some former Directors of GKCCC, including its point man, Deputy Chairman Khavan Perera and a new Committee comprising of former GKCCC, Despositors associations, the Committee of Chartered Accountants et al have, initially, agreed to pay back the 7,000 plus depositors within a time-frame. Depositors were assured 15% of their funds will be paid to them by December 2011 and a further 15% by May 2012. But what rattles the depositors is the fear that interest paid to them earlier will be deducted against future settlements. This, depositors say, is patently unfair because the company earned profits from the latter’s capital. Besides, they insist, between December 2008 and now the funds lying would have been used for profit-bearing purposes. Depositors continue to ask for a settlement based on the already agreed formulae of 6% per annum interest on capital held with no deductions on interest payments made prior to December 2008. They also say it is best the case of all those with capital of Rs.2 million and under be disposed of first so that this will leave a lighter load for the new Committee to handle. It is also pointed out while they are pushed to the streets with hardly any income the man behind it all Lalith Kotelawala lives in luxury with hardly any of his assets being touched. They express surprise the man keeps silent after using their money to come on TV every week extolling all his humane and altruistic qualities - all of which now seem so shallow.

Sri Lanka Guardian took up the matter and highlighted the issue in several editorials and Feature articles because several depositors met us with their terrible tales. It is sad to see some children of what were once wealthy upper-middle Class Colombo society parents having lost even their schooling. We are happy the Governor of the Central bank, the Supreme Court and the government in general are trying to help. Depositors still fear they will be cheated of their funds in the light of speculation that some valuable properties have changed hands surreptitiously. They share with us their worry while, at the time of the collapse in late 2008, the value of unencumbered GKCC assets was in excess of Rs.28 billion is now talked in much lower terms. That will be unfortunate, to say the least as these helpless continue to hope they will come out of their nightmare soon with the help and intervention of President Mahinda Rajapakse. This is why they ask the CBSL or any other relevant section of the government to announce a list of GKCCC asset values taken over in December 2008 and held as at date. If any were sold in the interim the name of the purchaser, the asset, value and sale date will be useful in the interest of transparency and accountability.

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