Surveyors prepare to strike

Surveyors prepare to strike over American Firm involvement in project

by Staff Writer 14-03-2018 | 9:41 PM
COLOMBO (News 1st) - The Government Surveyors' Association is preparing to launch a trade union action in protest against a contract being awarded to a US firm in violation of tender procedure. The project in question deals with the regularization of providing title deeds and modernization of preparing cadastral maps. A cabinet paper submitted by Minister of lands and Parliament Reforms, Gayantha Karunathilaka in September last year (2017) noted that US firm, Trimble Navigation Ltd. based out of California had presented a 170 million dollar proposal in this regard. The proposal had come through the Prime minister led CCEM or cabinet committee on economic management. The cabinet memo also noted that through discussions the government was able to negotiate the cost to 154mn US dollars. During this period the Company had relocated to Delaware from California and in the process had changed its name from Trimble Navigation Ltd. to Trimble Incorporated. The Minister of finance making observations during cabinet had stated that clear explanations need to be provided in the manner in which the name changed. The finance ministry had noted that approval can be provided to conduct a pilot project at a minimal cost. However, by the 11th of October 2017, the whole project received the green light from the cabinet. Under the first phase of the project, Trimble Inc. has been tasked with surveying 2.5mn blocks of land around the country, excluding the western province and regularizes the issuing of title deeds. The second phase will see the project being implemented for 2.5mn plots of land in the western province. The Government surveyors' Association points out that although the Trimble Inc. has projected a cost of 154 million US dollars for the project, the government surveyors department could accomplish the task with less than 40 million US dollars. Secretary of the Government Surveyors' Association, Basil Silva stated that the CCEM which was led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has suggested that the survey department obtained a loan of 26bn Rupees at a 4% interest rate. Further, he stated around 16 billion rupees of this money will be pocketed by individuals; this is an unsolicited proposal that means there is no tender process.

“By now we have received information that they are going to surreptitiously sign this agreement at the prime minister's office. The documents have come out of the attorney generals department.” – Basil Silva

Basil Silva stated that they want this company to survey 1.1 million plots of land, however, who will be doing this, Government surveyors, and they will allocate resources attached to the department for this purpose. So according to him, the only thing they are bringing from outside is the loan and the technology and this is stealing public funds and this is an attempt to hand over our department to an American company.

“We oppose this and we plan to enter into a continuous trade union action in protest against it.” – Basil Silva