Jan 16, 2021

Lokuvithana obtained an acre per Rs. 100 for Horana tyre factory? Featured

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently inaugurated the Ferentino Tyre Corporation- Pvt. Ltd, which was touted by the government as the biggest tyre manufacturing plant in Asia.

The project is invested by prominent Sri Lankan businessman - Nandana Jayadewa Lokuwithana.

The factory is located at a 155-acre land in the Wagawatta BOI Industrial Zone of Horana.

Construction work of the project was initially halted by the former president Maithripala Sirisena, during the days of the Good Governance government, alleging financial fraud. The most grievous allegation levelled against the project was with over the land where the factory was located.

Present minister of Ports - Rohitha Abeygunawardena had also been a staunch critic of the project back then. During a debate in parliament, he had ridiculed the project, stating the factory was a mere 'toy tyre factory'.

Ironically, minister Abeygunawardena was among those who attended the recent factory inauguration and this was widely criticised on social media.

RasikaJayakodi Screenshot 2021 01 15 at 09.08.27

99-year lease: 12-year tax relief

Although the BOI normally leases land for only for a period of 50 years, the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Management has given Nandana's company a 99-year lease facility.

In addition, an income tax relief for 12-years has also been granted.

Also, the annual tax value of an acre at the Horana Wagawatta Investment Zone is Rs. 578,000. In this backdrop, the 99-year lease granted under a 99.98% tax concession, (which sums up to him having obtained an acre at Rs. 100 annually) is also deeply problematic.

Questions have also been raised about Mr. Nandana's wealth. According to critics, it is quite impossible for someone who went to Dubai in 1989 as a production assistant for a salary of US $225 to accumulate such a large wealth, unless winning the world's biggest jackpot.

Panama Papers

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post quite some time back, former Governor Rajith Tennakoon had stated that the most important Sri Lankan name mentioned by the famous 'Panama Papers', is Nandana Jayadewa Lokuwithana.

He also stated that Lokuwithana, who had invested in the construction and steel industries of Sri Lanka, had also purchased the Marriott Hotel in Dubai.

Lokuwithana was named in the Panama Papers released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and connected to one entity by the name of ‘Nilona Fashions’ which was incorporated in December 2000 and is within the jurisdiction of Seychelles.

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