Earlier this year, the media continued to report irregularities that marred the Google Loon Project which was undertaken by the Information and Communication Technology Agency and its CEO Muhunthan Canagey.
When Google launched Project Loon a few years ago, the plan was to provide internet access to under-served areas.
However, here at home – an entity by the name ‘Rama Corporation’ was created and an attempt was made to make a move on the spectrum that is a vital national resource.
Information has come to light that ICTA CEO Muhunthan Canagey is involved in yet another alleged irregular incident.
On November 10,2016, then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake proposed in his budget speech to introduce a National Payment Platform.
With a National Payment Platform, all government organisations will be able to allow businesses and citizens to make online payment on real-time for services offered.
The creator of the National Payment Platform (NPP) will have access to information of all users including institutions, businesses and citizens of the country.
According to the budget proposal, ICTA would implement the National Payment Platform.
On September 9, 2015, almost a year before the budget proposal, speaking at a national forum , CEO of ICTA Muhunthan Canagey revealed that a National Payment Platform was in the making.
He said, twelve companies had shown interest in the project, and three local private companies were selected for it.
In this case, then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake informs Parliament about NPP after three companies had been selected to undertake the project.
Cabinet approval was given for the NPP on July12, 2016.
A case was filed with the Supreme Court seeking an order to quash the decision to implement and launch the NPP through the budget proposal with private firms.
The case claimed it was against the law of the country and would be taken up again on July 20.
“…This is beyond the powers of the Monetary Board. There is no provision for this in the constitution”, says (Attorney-at-Law Kanishka Vitharana
A document prepared by Total Pay Private Limited notes that ICTA had given it rights for the advisorial role in the NPP.To register with the NPP, a user must submit all details in to the system.
Therefore, a user will have to disclose all details from the NIC to bank accounts to the system that is operated by the private company.
This attempt is being carried out while a successful system linking the Central Bank, state and private banks, by the name of ‘LankaClear’ is in place.
A private company is brought into the picture at a time when the ground work is already laid to move LankaClear system under the complete supervision of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
“Serious doubts have been cast over one of the companies selected for the project, which is Total Pay Private Limited”, observes senior banker Rusiripala Tennakoon.
Has the Central Bank of Sri Lanka given it’s approval for Total Pay Private Limited, to be involved in creating the NPP?
Who permitted the NPP to go ahead, at a time when irregularities have been exposed on Google Loon, the tender for Electronic National Identity Cards as well as Muhunthan Canagey?
At a time when people have been affected by drought, floods and various economic and social difficulties, some are attempting to control public funds in an irresponsible manner.
What action will be taken against such people?