Sept 17, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) saving a staggering amount of funds invested Rs. 4 billion in the Lotus Tower project after China Exim Bank decided to loan only Rs. 12 billion for the Rs. 19 billion project, the President's Office said in a media release.
The release said a tripartite agreement was signed on 03.01.2012 between China National Electronics Importers and Exporters Corporation (CEIEC) and Aerospace Long March International Trade Co. Ltd, (ALIT) of China and Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) to finance the project and initial deposit of Rs. 2 billion paid for the ALIT.
According to the President's office, after ALIT disappeared, in 2017 government decided to remove the company from the tripartite agreement, the China Exim Bank suspended the loan although the government was paying loan installments of Rs. 2.4 billion annually. The China Exim Bank has then slashed the Rs. 16 billion loan to Rs. 12 billion and the TRC has then infused Rs. 4 billion to complete the project.
Sri Lanka had paid the loan installment of Rs. 2.4 billion for 2018 and will have to continue paying this sum annually for the next 10 years. The payment for the first half of 2019 amounting to Rs. 1.2 billion has already been paid.
Full media release issued by the President's Media Division:
The Lotus Tower was vested with the public in the wake of saving a staggering amount of public funds which would otherwise have been gone in the drains due to the controversial nature of the project agreement.
The total estimated cost of the Lotus Tower project was Rs. 19 billion and the Export Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) had agreed to finance the project through a loan. Accordingly, a tripartite agreement was signed on 03.01.2012 between China National Electronics Importers and Exporters Corporation (CEIEC) and Aerospace Long March International Trade Co. Ltd, (ALIT) of China and Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL).
Investigations carried out in 2015 revealed that no information was found on ALIT Company. Under the instructions of His Excellency the President this was informed to the Chinese government through the Sri Lankan mission in Beijing. Investigations could not find any such company either in China or elsewhere. Even the address given in the agreement with regard to this company appears to be fake.
The initial deposit of Rs. 2 billion paid to this company by the Sri Lanka Government is also unaccounted for and no one knows what happened to it. Thereafter, in November 2017 this company was removed from the tri-party agreement and as a result the Chinese EXIM Bank had suspended the loan facility due to be given to Sri Lanka.
Thereafter, the Rs. 16 billion that was scheduled to be granted to Sri Lanka by the EXIM Bank was reduced to Rs. 12 billion. However, by then Sri Lanka was already been paying Rs. 2400 million loan installment annually. Sri Lanka had paid the loan installment of Rs. 2400 million for 2018 and will have to continue paying this sum annually for the next 10 years. The payment for the first half of 2019 amounting to Rs. 1200 million has already been paid.
In this context the TRC invested Rs. 4 billion to the Lotus Tower project saving the country a huge amount funds.
The base circumference of the tower is 45 meters with a height of 356 meters. The main feature of this tower is the transmission tower and the antenna coverage length is around 90 meters. The digital antenna covers a distance of 60 km to the North, 60 km to the South and 50 km to the East and 15 km to the West. This will provide transmission facilities to 20 television stations and 50 FM channels.
The initial design for the Lotus Tower was done in 2008, while construction commenced in 2012. The University of Moratuwa provided the main consultancy services. More than 70 Sri Lankan experts and engineers representing engineering science, structural engineering, concrete technology, high-rise vibration and electrical engineering made their contributions for the construction. The project provided the opportunity for hundreds of students studying engineering in public and private universities to receive field training.