While admitting that the ‘Lotus Tower’ is a monumental landmark of Sri Lanka’s technological and architectural achievement, the construction of this massive edifice began with a huge financial disaster as no one knows what happened to Rs. 2 billion of its investment to date, President Maithripala Sirisena said.
“Sri Lanka is world-famous for its ancient agricultural, engineering, architectural and sculptural marvel which were second to none. The construction of the Lotus Tower is another milestone of Sri Lanka’s technological advancement,” he stressed.
A tripartite agreement between the Sri Lanka Government, Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRC) and the National Electronics Import and Export Corporation of China (CEIEC) was signed in 2012 with to investment Rs. 16 billion for the project, he added.
Addressing a ceremony held to mark the opening of South Asia’s tallest and the world’s 19th tallest building, the ‘Lotus Tower' at the Beira Lake waterfront last afternoon, President Sirisena said that though the tripartite agreement was signed to invest Rs. 16 billion for the project, Sri Lanka was given only Rs. 12 billion.
“In 2012, an advance payment of Rs. 2,000 million was made to CEIEC to start construction. Unfortunately, the CEIEC vanished without a trace by 2016 with our two billion rupees. I instructed our Chinese ambassador Mr. Karunasena Kodituwakku to conduct an inquiry to ascertain what happened to the bank. He has visited the address given by the bank and reported back that there was no such company or any bank at that address. Know one knows what happened to Rs. two billion up to now. Later on, the government decided to complete the construction with government funds,” President Sirisena noted.
He said the government must repay the loan obtained for the construction of the Lotus Tower at Rs. 2,400 million per year for ten years and added to complete the construction; another Rs. 3 billion was required.
The TRC as one of the biggest commercial ventures of the government with a huge financial contribution to the Treasury has borne a big responsibility to complete the construction of the Lotus Tower.
The world is changing fast. Therefore, we must get adapted to the ever-changing trends in the world. The Lotus Tower will no doubt not only be a boost to tourism but will be showcased Sri Lanka’s technological and engineering advancement which is our legacy from Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa era, President Sirisena stressed.
An independent public-private company will be set up for the management and maintenance of the Lotus Tower with the aim of safeguarding its beauty, quality and architectural glory, he added.
He expressed his gratitude to EXIM Bank of China, the Chinese Government, Moratuwa University and the TRC for its cooperation to see the successful completion of the project.
Chinese envoy in Sri Lanka, Cheng Xueyuan also spoke.
Defence Secretary and Chairman of the TRC, General Shantha Kottegoda made the welcome address. (Sandun A Jayasekera)