Alucop Cables PLC made a shipment of cables to an Australian company in Victoria, Melbourne, after its visit to Australia with the Trade Mission organised by the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries in mid 2008.
The first shipment was honoured and the second shipment which was sent on DP terms on the request of the buyer was held up for payment. Constant reminders by e-mail and international calls to the buyer fell on deaf ears.
Alucop Cables PLC added up interest for each year and the total outstanding reflected Aus. $ 20,000. The local company holding membership in most of the large chambers made representations to these chambers, the Australian High Commission and even to the Australia-New Zealand Business Council. Outcome for all these appeals were without any results.
It so happened that Aloy Jayawardene, President, Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries, was travelling to Australia in late December 2010 and visiting five states in Australia, meeting chambers promoting bilateral trade.
Alucop Cables holds membership with the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries and its Managing Director Shamendra Panditha made a special appeal to Jayawardene as he was visiting the State of Victoria to visit the defaulting company and find out the reasons for not honouring the outstanding amount. Documents of the defaulted shipment were given to Jayawardene.
One of the five states Jayawardene was visiting was Victoria, Melbourne. The meetings Jayawardene had in Melbourne were with Consul for Sri Lanka in Victoria Bandu Dissanayake and President Aus-Lanka Business Council in Melbourne Dilkie Perera.
Having explained to them the non-honouring of shipment of cables from Sri Lanka, both persons had telephoned the said company, but failed to make contact with the chief of the company. The next bet Jayawardene had was to meet the Sri Lanka Consul in New South Wales.
Jayawardene had to take flight from Hobart, Tasmania to meet P.D. Fernando, Consul General in New South Wales, Sydney. At the meeting Fernando, was told of the Alucop Cables matter. He promptly contacted the company in Victoria, Melbourne and was able to talk to the secretary of the company.
The reply Fernando had was about the interest Alucop Cables had added to their final bill due to the delay in the final payment. Jayawardene who was with Fernando at his office telephoned Panditha who was then in Sweden on a business promotion visit and requested that an invoice to be forwarded to Fernando, deleting all interest. Panditha was very prompt; he had telephoned his office in Colombo and got the revised bill which showed Aus. $ 14,500.
After returning to Sri Lanka, Jayawardene was regularly in touch with Fernando in Sydney. It had been constant contact with the company and Fernando on an official visit to Melbourne visited this company. This he did due the pressure Jayawardene was placing on him. The equivalent of this amount was Rs. 1.5 million.
After much pressure from Fernando, Sri Lanka’s Consul General in Sydney, the Melbourne company finally paid Alucop Cables (now Sierra Cables PLC), the amount outstanding in mid January 2012, almost one year since this matter was initiated by Fernando.
Panditha commenting after having received the payment said the Small Chamber President Jayawardene took such an interest in this matter when all others to whom he made representations failed or ignored the request and that it was thanks to Jayawardene’s personal efforts that he was able to receive this payment after three years.
Jayawardene, commenting on this issue, praised Fernando, a Government official serving in a faraway country, for the personal initiative taken to make a close to this huge outstanding payment. Today Fernando is the newly-appointed Director General of Commerce. The chamber extends its appreciation to Fernando for the initiative taken when a chamber made this request, which very rarely happens from a Government official. The Minister concerned, kindly take note of same.