SL Bank pays US PR firm to avoid UNHRC resoulution


unhrc_bThe Central Bank of Sri Lanka has engaged the services of a Washington based  PR agency for a consideration of Rs. 100 million (approx. US$ 800,000) in order  to deepen defence, investment, trade and cultural links with the US ahead of the  UNHRC sessions in 2013.

The Central Bank would pay Rs. 100 million for a year’s service provided by  the Thompson Advisory Group LLC, USA (TAG). The contract was signed by Central  Bank Deputy Governor BDWA Silva and Robert J. Thompson, Chairman TAG on March  16, 2013 as the US government sponsored a second resolution against Sri Lanka at  the UNHRC sessions in Geneva.

The deal was brokered by Thilak Siriwardena who will provide strategic  consultancy services to the Central Bank for a consideration of US$ 7,000 a  month for one year, opposition MPs disclosed yesterday.

During the year leading up to the UNHRC session in 2014, the TAG has  undertaken to:

= Prepare and provide educational facts, figures and analyses relating to Sri  Lanka to be submitted to the US government (congress and executive branches),  think tanks, academia and media.

= Plan and execute immediately an ongoing engagement with US Congress, US  Governmental Departments and United Nations.

= Engage with influential media.

= Brief US based investors on current US investment and additional investment  and trade opportunities in Sri Lanka.

= Prepare suitable worded educational and promotional articles for US  audiences, which would be factual representations based on the past 30 years and  the remarkable post-conflict progress in Sri Lanka.

= Arrange a comprehensive programme in April 2013 for a Central Bank visit to  Washington D.C.

= Arrange awareness and educational visits to Sri Lanka for senior US  Government and private sector officials .

= Reach out to opinion leaders in think tanks and academia in the USA and  engage with broader Sri Lankan Diaspora, by organising interactions and meetings  as appropriate.

Providing details to the US Department of Justice under Foreign Agents  Registration Act of 1938, TAG has made the following interesting disclosures  about the Central Bank, raising a few eyebrows:

=The Central Bank is a semi-autonomous arm of the Sri Lankan government

= The Central Bank is not supervised, owned, directed, controlled, financed  or subsidised by the Sri Lankan government, any political party nor any other  principle.

Opposition MP Dr. Harsha De Silva, who disclosed the above information to the  media yesterday (11) questioned the validity of disclosed by TAG to its  government.

“The Monetary Board is appointed by the President according to the 18th  Amendment. The now repealed 17th Amendment gave powers to the Constitutional  Council to appoint the Monetary Board upon recommendations made by the Ministry  of Finance and Planning, under whose jurisdiction the Central Bank falls. But  now the appointments are made by the President. So is it right to say the  Central Bank is not supervised, controlled or directed by the government?” the  UNP Economic Spokesman said.

“And, since when did the Central Bank engage in talks relating to national  security?” he asked.

Holding up a one thousand rupee note, he charged: “This is proof that the  government controls the Central Bank, otherwise this (thousand rupee note)  election poster would not have been printed on the eve of elections in 2010.”

The Central Bank’s mandate is to maintain price stability and financial  system stability in the economy.