Friday, November 23, 2012

The delegation to Kazakhstan with the President – Junket or Worthwhile?

The President took a Sri Lankan Airlines, plane load of Govt. and Business leaders to Kazakhstan amounting to 70 for the state visit. Upon completion the plane returned to Colombo, while the Presidents jetted off to the United States from Astana on an international airline such as Lufthansa, on a private visit, ostensibly to see the PM who is ailing in hospital and possibly also have a medical checkup, as would be normal for a China loving person not to trust the Chinese medicine and instead place his life on US medicine, no matter what he says about the US for his domestic audience.

So what was all this about? Step back. What does Kazakhstan require? Foreign investment. Did our businessmen go there to invest? NO

What does Kazakhstan buy from us? Tea, Did any tea industry leader go to ensure they reduce entry barriers to our Value Added Tea? NO (Susantha Ratnayake does not count as he went as the head of the CCC and not as head of the Tea Board or whatever to represent tea interests. Harry Jayawardene went for the ride to keep in the good books of the President in case he decides to take over another of his previously privatized companies like LMF)

What can they give us? Grain. Do we want any more grain, considering we have imposed more taxes on wheat grain and flour? NO

Kazakhstan is a oil producer on land based oil fields. Do they have any knowledge in offshore oil production, especially a competitive advantage? NO. I can understand LAUGFS Wegapitiya, who also went will try and get some cheap gas to fill his cylinders, but it is not practical to import it from there in the quantity he wants, as they send it through their pipelines and not cost effective for him.

I challenge the Govt. If we either export or import 20% more to/from Kazakhstan in 2013 as compared with 2012 to justify a Presidential delegation of our top businessman whose time, shall we say is valued at US$1M a day in business gained or lost, for the reader to assess if this junket has been anything but that?

I invite delegates who went at huge cost to the state estimated at Rs100M to contradict my position and correct any incorrect allegations I may have alluded to in this blog. Having an aircraft idle in Astana for a couple of days is an unforgivable sin, especially for an airline that is bleeding heavily, to have to forego income by this very extravagant dalliance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's always good on these kinds of foreign trips to have MOUs that justify the trip ready to be signed during the visit so that there are no complaints like this.

it may have been a junket that can be turned into something worthwhile if anyone follows up.

kazakhstan can be considered like an Arab country so they can provide a good number of tourists and investment to SL if they are courted properly.