By Yoshitha Perera
There was no termination clause in the lease agreement signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and D.P.A. Jayasinghe Company in 2016 on renting out a building for the Ministry, it was revealed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to investigate corruption of the current administration yesterday.
Testifying before the Commission, Notary Tanushka Gunawardena who prepared this agreement said that both parties agreed to not having a termination clause. “Former secretary to the ministry B. Wijeratna told me that there is no need for a termination clause. I was entrusted with preparing the agreement by Upali Jayasinghe, owner of the D.P.A. Jayasinghe Company.”
The total value of the agreement was over Rs. 1.3 billion. The ministry of agriculture was to pay Rs. 21 million + VAT and Nation Building Tax per month during the period of April 2016 to April 2019. From April 2019 to April 2021 the ministry was to pay Rs. 24.1 million + VAT and Nation Building Tax per month.
She informed the commission that the Ministry had transferred key money of Rs. 63 million to her client Upali Jayasinghe’s bank account in 2016 and her client had also informed the Ministry had transferred another Rs. 504 million to his account considering future two years before ending the five year agreement.
“The agreement which was signed by the Agriculture Ministry contains two parts. First part is three years starting from 2016 and the second part is from 2019-2021,” she informed the Commission. Chairman of the Commission, retired Supreme Court Justice Upali Abeyrathne then questioned the witness about transferring money for another two years before ending the initial five year lease agreement. Responding to the question witness informed that it was how the particular agreement had completed.
Earlier, testifying before the Commission former Legal Officer attached to the Ministry Chamali de Soyza informed that former Secretary to the Ministry B. Wijeratne told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the AG had approved the deal but the AG had continuously asked the Ministry to change certain clauses stated in the agreement. However, the Ministry has written to the AG twice stating that the Cabinet had approved leasing the building at a higher rate than that was valued by the government evaluates.
“The Secretary has told the AG that the government procurement guidelines have even been approved by Parliament and that the Cabinet has the right to disregard these guidelines. He has also quoted several sections of the Constitution. So in a way he is teaching the AG about law, “Chairman of the PCoI, Upali Abeyrathne said.
Witness said that she had number of clarifications about the agreement and she had raised them to Mr. Wijeratne.