The Central Bank of Sri Lanka has engaged the services of a Washington basedÂ PR agency for a consideration of Rs. 100 million (approx. US$ 800,000) in orderÂ to deepen defence, investment, trade and cultural links with the US ahead of theÂ UNHRC sessions in 2013.
The Central Bank would pay Rs. 100 million for a yearâ€™s service provided byÂ the Thompson Advisory Group LLC, USA (TAG). The contract was signed by CentralÂ Bank Deputy Governor BDWA Silva and Robert J. Thompson, Chairman TAG on MarchÂ 16, 2013 as the US government sponsored a second resolution against Sri Lanka atÂ the UNHRC sessions in Geneva.
The deal was brokered by Thilak Siriwardena who will provide strategicÂ consultancy services to the Central Bank for a consideration of US$ 7,000 aÂ month for one year, opposition MPs disclosed yesterday.
During the year leading up to the UNHRC session in 2014, the TAG hasÂ undertaken to:
= Prepare and provide educational facts, figures and analyses relating to SriÂ Lanka to be submitted to the US government (congress and executive branches),Â think tanks, academia and media.
= Plan and execute immediately an ongoing engagement with US Congress, USÂ Governmental Departments and United Nations.
= Engage with influential media.
= Brief US based investors on current US investment and additional investmentÂ and trade opportunities in Sri Lanka.
= Prepare suitable worded educational and promotional articles for USÂ audiences, which would be factual representations based on the past 30 years andÂ the remarkable post-conflict progress in Sri Lanka.
= Arrange a comprehensive programme in April 2013 for a Central Bank visit toÂ Washington D.C.
= Arrange awareness and educational visits to Sri Lanka for senior USÂ Government and private sector officials .
= Reach out to opinion leaders in think tanks and academia in the USA andÂ engage with broader Sri Lankan Diaspora, by organising interactions and meetingsÂ as appropriate.
Providing details to the US Department of Justice under Foreign AgentsÂ Registration Act of 1938, TAG has made the following interesting disclosuresÂ 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, financedÂ or subsidised by the Sri Lankan government, any political party nor any otherÂ principle.
Opposition MP Dr. Harsha De Silva, who disclosed the above information to theÂ media yesterday (11) questioned the validity of disclosed by TAG to itsÂ government.
“The Monetary Board is appointed by the President according to the 18thÂ Amendment. The now repealed 17th Amendment gave powers to the ConstitutionalÂ Council to appoint the Monetary Board upon recommendations made by the MinistryÂ of Finance and Planning, under whose jurisdiction the Central Bank falls. ButÂ now the appointments are made by the President. So is it right to say theÂ Central Bank is not supervised, controlled or directed by the government?” theÂ UNP Economic Spokesman said.
“And, since when did the Central Bank engage in talks relating to nationalÂ security?” he asked.
Holding up a one thousand rupee note, he charged: “This is proof that theÂ government controls the Central Bank, otherwise this (thousand rupee note)Â election poster would not have been printed on the eve of elections in 2010.”
The Central Bankâ€™s mandate is to maintain price stability and financialÂ system stability in the economy.