To portray ‘true’ picture of economy...
The Central Bank yesterday said it has embarked on an extensive local and international awareness programme to portray an accurate picture of the Sri Lankan Economy.
"In the recent times, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has observed an aggressive and well funded misinformation campaign that is being carried out by various groups with dubious agendas, both locally and internationally to tarnish the political image and true economic successes of Sri Lanka. The Central Bank also notes with concern, that if such campaign continues without a counter campaign to correct the misconceptions it may have the potential to create a highly detrimental image for Sri Lanka, and erode the growing confidence of international investors in Sri Lanka," the Central Bank said in a statement yesterday.
"Since such an outcome would adversely affect the country's economy and its economic and financial system stability, the Central Bank has embarked upon a robust local and international Awareness Programme to refute such misinformation, and to provide the factual position of the economy and the political environment to all relevant stakeholders.
"Towards that objective, the Central Bank has also secured the services of a competent international professional firm to assist in the effort to convey the true and factual position regarding Sri Lanka and its economy, particularly in the USA. Such an endeavour will be particularly significant, since the USA is a major market for Sri Lankan exports, while US investors have made a substantial foreign direct investment and are the leading holders of Sri Lankan bonds," the Central Bank said.
However, the statement did not disclose the name of the international firm, nor how much was paid to it from the public purse.
Last week opposition lawmaker Dr. Harsha De Silva exposed the deal between the Washington based PR firm and the Central Bank.
The Central Bank has engaged Washington based PR agency Thompson Advisory Group LLC, USA (TAG) for a consideration of Rs. 100 million (approx. US$ 800,000) in order to deepen defence, investment, trade and cultural links with the US ahead of the UNHRC sessions in 2013.
The Central Bank would pay Rs. 100 million for a year's service leading up to the 2014 sessions in Geneva.
The deal was brokered by Thilak Siriwardena who will provide strategic consultancy services to the Central Bank for a consideration of US$ 7,000 a month for one year.
During the year leading up to the UNHRC session in 2014, the TAG has undertaken to:
= Prepare and provide educational facts, figures and analyses relating to Sri Lanka to be submitted to the US government (congress and executive branches), think tanks, academia and media.
= Plan and execute immediately an ongoing engagement with US Congress, US Governmental Departments and United Nations.
= Engage with influential media.
= Brief US based investors on current US investment and additional investment and trade opportunities in Sri Lanka.
= Prepare suitable worded educational and promotional articles for US audiences, which would be factual representations based on the past 30 years and the remarkable post-conflict progress in Sri Lanka.
= Arrange a comprehensive programme in April 2013 for a Central Bank visit to Washington D.C.
=Arrange awareness and educational visits to Sri Lanka for senior US Government and private sector officials .
= Reach out to opinion leaders in think tanks and academia in the USA and engage with broader Sri Lankan Diaspora, by organising interactions and meetings as appropriate.
Providing details to the US Department of Justice under Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, TAG has made the following interesting disclosures 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, financed or subsidised by the Sri Lankan government, any political party nor any other principle. (See The Island Financial Review, April 12, 2013)