Maithri Sewana

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Background

Maithri Sewana is a holiday resort built in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa to provide accommodation for pilgrims visiting the city.[1] Polonnaruwa is the electoral district of the President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena (2015 to present).[2] The three-storied resort provides accommodation facilities for 500 people at a time. It was built by the Polonnaruwa Buddhist Association (PBA) which is chaired by the President.[1]

Maithri Sewana was ceremoniously opened (Image 1) by the President Maithripala Sirisena on the 2nd January 2016, with the participation of the then Public Administration and Management Minister Ranjith Maddumabandara, North Central Province Chief Minister Peshala Jayarathne, Deputy Minister Lakshman Wasantha Perera and the Member of Parliament Nalaka Kolonne.[3]

The total amount of Rs.75 million spent for this project is said to be collected as donations from Businessmen and Governmental, Non-Governmental and private organizations to the PBA. As per the official website of the resort, the donations were made per the request of its Chairman, President Maithripala Sirisena, while he was the Minister of Health of the former government[1]

Tobacco Industry Involvement

Sponsorship from the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC)

The photograph (Image 1) published on the unveiling of the plaque at the opening ceremony by the President’s official website and other national newspapers depicted Dinesh Dharmadasa, the Legal and External Affairs Director of the Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) standing next to the President (Images 1 & 2).[4][5]

Image 1: Dinesh Dharmadasa, Director/ CTC, standing next to the President Maithripala Sirisena at the opening ceremony of Maithri Sewana[3]
Image 2: Dinesh Dharmadasa’s photograph published by the CTC[5]

The CTC Annual Report 2017 (Page 69) mentions “Construction of pilgrims rest in Polonnaruwa” as one of their Cooperate Social Investment (CSI) projects and reports it to be initiated in 2012 (Image 3).[5]

Image 3: Excerpt of the image of the CTC Annual Report reporting “Construction of pilgrims rest in Polonnaruwa”[5]

In a television discussion in February 2018, former President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksha accused President Maithripala Sirisena for constructing a Pilgrims’ rest house in Polonnaruwa under the sponsorship of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC (CTC) [6]

Other Sponsors Linked to Tobacco Industry

A newspaper article dated 20th June 2013 reported that a cash donation was made to the PBA by the Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industries (SLCPI), which was accepted by the then Minister of health, President Maithripala Sirisena (Image 4).[7]

Image 4: The Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industries (SLCPI) making a cash donation to the President on behalf of the Polonnaruwa Buddhist Association for their activities including construction of a pilgrim’s rest in Polonnaruwa.[5]

According to the official website of the SLCPI, it is the representative of the Sri Lankan Pharmaceutical Industry and Interpharm (Pvt) Ltd. is listed as one of SLCPI’s 10 Council members.[8][9] The Chairman / Managing Director of Interpharm (Pvt) Ltd, Mr. Kalana Hewamallika is a main distributor of cigarettes in Sri Lanka via Arunadisi Traders Private Limited, a company headed by him.[10][5] Please see Arunadisi Traders Private Limited for more details.

Tobacco Unmasked Resources

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Maithri Sewana Website. Undated, accessed July 2018
  2. President Maithripala Sirisena Official Website. President, 2017, accessed August 2018
  3. 3.0 3.1 Daily News President opens ‘Maithri Sevana’ Holiday Resort, 5 January 2016, accessed July 2018
  4. Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka. President opens Maithri Sevana Holiday Resort, President’s official website, 2017
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC. Annual Report 2017, 2018, accessed August 2018
  6. Derana TV Derana 360, 05 February 2018, archived August 2018
  7. Daily News. News in Pictures, 20 June 2013, accessed August 2018
  8. Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industries (SLCPI) official website. About Us, 2008, accessed August 2018
  9. Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industries (SLCPI) official website. Committee, 2008, accessed August 2018
  10. Sri Lanka Mirror. Interpharm ventures Into pharmaceutical exports, 09 June 2017, accessed August 2018