ICTA in crisis: Is Total Pay doomed to be a total failure?

ICTA in crisis: Is Total Pay doomed to be a total failure?

Written by Lahiru Fernando

14 Aug, 2017 | 9:28 am

Information and Communication Technology Agency, better known to the masses as ICTA, has been in the spotlight of controversy, constantly, in the recent times.

As most people already know, the ICTA is public funded. Muhunthan Canagey, the CEO of ICTA is being paid Rs. 755,000/- to work three days a week, also from the people’s money.

There are more happenings that are cause for alarm. Here are three doomed projects undertaken by ICTA;

  • Project Loon – FAILED
  • Total Pay national payment platform project – FAILED
  • E-NIC project – STALLED

Yes, those working in the fields of IT do get paid in the ‘upper six digits’. However, is it sensible to pay or fund a person / institute whose actions cost millions of rupees to the state and its people?

MP Anura Kumara’s questions in Parliament

The Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake raised questions in a recent parliamentary session on the Total Pay scandal.

“Three private companies had been proposed to establish the National Payment Platform. However, this national level project was only submitted for cabinet approval in 2016. I have the cabinet paper with me.” he said

MP Dissanayake pointed out that while the selected company was ‘Total Pay’, the company was only registered on March 1, 2016.

Why does this raise questions? – well, the announcement came in 2015 that four companies have been shortlisted for the project. And out of the four, Total Pay was selected.

If Total Pay was registered in 2016, how was it shortlisted and then selected in 2015?

According to MP Anura Kumara, Total Pay claims in its profile that they have received ‘digital instruction rights’ from the ICTA to establish the National Payment Platform.

“This could result in a third party – which is not a bank – being entrusted with all future transactions in Sri Lanka and also cause the Central Bank to lose its regulatory powers”, he said.

Anura Kumara also says that this would

  • Create space for money laundering to occur.
  • Compromise the security of information of the parties in transactions.

Also, It was said that the proposed National Payment Platform project will not be under the regulatory power and supervision of the Central Bank, a matter which was highlighted by the CBSL Governor in a letter to the Finance Minister.

“Cabinet has been misled on this. While this suspicious activity was halted when it was brought to light by the media, given that the company in question has claimed that it has been given digital instruction rights, the danger still exists.” said Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the Chief Opposition Whip.

What action will the government take regarding these white collar crimes, where public funds are stolen and utilized to grant business opportunities for personal friends?

“Do not wait”

Chameera Perera of the Left Centre has requested the government to take action without “waiting for the final moment after the country has been robbed blind and institutions destroyed.”

“Take action immediately. Investigate the damage caused to ICTA and the country As a citizen of this country, as citizens organisations, we call on the government to institute legal action”, he added.

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