Harsha salutes Dumindra Ratnayake, critical of his removal as BOI Chairman

October 25, 2018 (LBO) – State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva used a Facebook post to praise the former Chairman of the BOI Dumnidra Ratnayake, and criticise the way he was removed.

The Facebook post is reproduced below:

Thank you Dumi. The loss is certainly ours!

This is to make some personal remarks about Mr Dumindra Ratnayake who resigned from the post of Chairman BOI following the sudden request by the President for all members of the Board to do so.

Let me note right at the outset that Dumindra is among the few absolutely honest, straight and decent people I have come across in my life. I say this with one hundred percent conviction.

I am saddened by the way the President went about removing him and others from the BOI even though it is his prerogative. If the President wished to have one of his men there he could have done it in a much nicer way. After all, it is not easy to get true professionals to join government in today’s ugly politics.

Dumi is someone I have known for almost 50 years. Coming from a well to do family Dumi excelled in everything he ever did. He went from being a brilliant kid at Royal to Moratuwa where he got a first class and joined Celltel as a trainee engineer. Having made it to CEO of that company which subsequently became Tigo and then Etisalat Dumi proved himself in the corporate world. He was a doer. He led from the front and he was loved by his staff. As announced earlier he quit Etisalat at age 50 a few years ago to do things he always wanted to do. And he did.

He sat with his twin kids and helped them excel in school and enter university, became a major supporter of the start up community, helped his friends in their own ventures, took up a strong position on animal rights and generally started a relaxed life taking turns at his homes in Kandy and in Colombo and at the RCGC.

The most amount of his time however was spent on our project; 1990 Suwa Seriya Ambulance. Dumi and I maneuvered tough terrain starting in March 2015 and won multiple battles that finally led to the creation of the entity by an Act of Parliament earlier this year. He gladly accepted to Chair the Board. Everyday, he spends valuable time ensuring the service levels are kept to what people have now come to expect from it; nothing less than excellent. Like the proverbial ying and the yang, today Dumi and I along with the rest of the almost 1,500 young local staff, take pride in delivering perhaps the most loved service by a government in recent times. By end of the year we will serve every one of the 21 million of us and all our visitors in any medical emergency.

Dumi never wanted to be in Government after his successful private sector career. But we convinced him to take the job as Chairman BOI. He took it with the condition he would convert the position to a non executive one as good governance would dictate and delegate executive power to the Director General. It was fine by us; we wanted his integrity and his skills in government.

Having gone there he put right numerous issues at that institution. Along with Ajit Gunawardene and Mangala Yapa who I personally know and respect very much they did their best to attract FDI in an environment where the government had withdrawn all investment incentives previously enjoyed. It was tough. But they began to succeed. People respected them for the total professionalism they brought to the BOI. I know he also went out of the way to resolve issues faced by genuine investors and always did what was right. He has a great ability to listen, analyze and always find a solution. A rare trait among many senior people today. However, he had no time for the crooks who would come with warped proposals. It was either white or it was black. No grey.

Dumi never took a cent from BOI as salary. He didn’t even take a car. He drove himself in their family car on the days he was supposed to be at office. He would tell me he was embarrassed that minor staff would offer to carry his files in to the plush office of the Chairman! He was always and continues to be a simple man.

It was the same with 1990 Suwa Seriya. For the thousands of hours he has put in, he never claimed a cent. He spends his own money. I know he enjoys it as much as I do. We save lives!

That is Dumi. His service to the nation was always voluntary. He gave back. His analytical mind always found solutions to the most complex of problems. I know he was not very popular among the protectionist lobby. He wanted to create a competitive economy that would create good jobs for young people. He wanted to change the culture where young men in their twenties became three wheeler drivers and security guards. I am aware he was working on setting up high quality training opportunities for the youth. What he started at the BOI will certainly help us achieve that down the road.

I took the liberty to write this personal note about Dumindra Ratnayake because he would never talk about himself. In this den of thieves and corrupt elements who only think about themselves and in the process destroy our nation it is such a wonderful and refreshing pleasure to have people like Dumi. Once again I just wish the President and his advisers thought through their action before they did what they did. I hope someday Dumi will be forgiving enough to volunteer his time for this country again. Of course he continues to give leadership to our life saving creation; 1990.

Dumi has been and will continue to be that simple, honest, decent man who will always deliver come rain or shine. I wish Dumi and Roshi the very best! Like I said, the loss is ours. For Dumi, more time to cut his golf handicap!

Thank you Dumi.

Harsha