This is a clarification to the article that appeared on the front page of Mirror Business yesterday, November 1, 2017, titled ‘Govt.’s PPP boss wants new set of regulations to facilitate investment’.
I wish to reiterate that there is no ‘shroud of secrecy’ in the formulation of new guidelines to govern public- private partnerships (PPPs), as implied in your report.
Also, you have failed to mention that I spoke about the importance of new guidelines for PPP projects at a public seminar organised by the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL), in the context of slow progress of many PPP projects in the power sector.
I also explained that the guidelines adopted, when I functioned as BOI Chairman in the late 1990s resulted in, for the first time, over 450 MW of private power being added to the grid, with the BOI and CEB working collaboratively.
I did not make any other statement at this seminar apart from the above.
However, in yesterday’s newspaper article, the journalist’s own statement about procurement scandals costing the country billions of rupees in taxpayers’ money, the coal tender, Airbus purchases and resignation of a minister were placed quite tactically and in my opinion, quite mischievously, interspersed with what I actually said, thereby leading to anyone reading to believe these statements were made by me. Also, these were not matters that were even discussed at the PUCSL forum.
The reason why you allude to my actions being shrouded in mystery is probably due to the misunderstanding that occurred at the Sri Lanka-Italy Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, where I had proposed keeping the media out, in order to have an open dialog with the private sector. After all, the mandate for the National Agency for Public Private Partnerships (NAPPP) is public-private partnership with “public” being the government and I felt it was my duty to understand the private sector issues and concerns in a closed-door setting.
Whatever the journalistic technicalities used (within quotes or without and without mentioning where and in what context the quotes were made), to place the journalist’s viewpoints in a manner giving the impression to the reader that they are my own, is quite hurtful to me personally and causes considerable damage to the work being done by the NAPPP.
While the newspaper might defend its right to place its own opinion or any other person’s opinion, which I believe is the foundation of objective journalism, I believe those very same guidelines must apply in clearly demarcating which part is the newspaper’s own view and which part is not. This must be done in a way that the general readership will understand who said what and in what context and therefore, not cause reputational damage to individuals or institutions.