Written by Zulfick Farzan
12 Jul, 2018 | 3:27 pm
Colombo (News 1st) – Former Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines Nishantha Wickremesinghe, the brother in law of Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa came into the board of Sri Lankan Airlines in 2008 and thereafter was made Chairman in 2010, where he demanded a monthly remuneration of Rs. 500,000.
At the Commission on Wednesday, the company secretary Dalrene Thirukumar produced what is called the Cost Center Document for the Chairman’s office which lists out the expenses of Nishantha Wickremesinghe excluding his salary and allowances. As per the witness’s testimony, the Chairman’s salary and allowances are handled by the office of the company secretary.
The Chairman’s Office consists of only the Secretary to the Chairman and the Executive Secretary.
From 2008 – 2009 the basic salary for the Chairman’s office staff was Rs. 288,000, however, after Wickremesinghe was made Chairman in 2010, that figure rose to Rs. 557,000. This is just for two employees serving in the Chairman’s office. In 2013 – 2014, the basic salary for the Chairman’s office staff reached Rs. 3.812 Million and dropped top Rs. 2.977 Million for the next financial year.
The entertainment expenditure reimbursements in the Cost Center Document notes, from 2009 to 2010 the figure was just Rs 46,000. However, in the following year, that figure rose to Rs. 496,000 and was above Rs 150,000 each year until 2014, where it was Rs. 473,000.
Then we come to the “Duty Travel Overseas” column in the Cost Center Document. These numbers include the expenses of the Chairman as well. Let’s have a breakdown as follows.
2008 – 2009: Rs. 532,000
2009 – 2010: Rs. 184,000
2010 – 2011: Rs. 1,306,000
2011 – 2012: Rs. 3,133,000
2012 – 2013: Rs. 5,109,000
2013 – 2014: Rs. 6,346,000
2014 – 2015: Rs. 9,028,000
So in the latter part of his career as Chairman of the national airlines, his cost centre document for overseas travel shows a staggering number of just over Rs 9 Million.
The commission of inquiry also drew its attention towards the “Telephone Rentals” listed in the cost centre document. These number include chargers and trunk calls.
2008 – 2009: Rs. 22,000
2009 – 2010: Rs. 337,000
2010 – 2011: Rs. 460,000
2011 – 2012: Rs. 692,000
2012 – 2013: Rs. 873,000
2013 – 2014: Rs. 1,468,000
2014 – 2015: Rs. 1,056,000
So, when looking at those numbers, one would actually question who were they talking to for the airlines to incur such a cost.
Another key highlight in the proceedings on Wednesday was the Sales Related Pax Cost which can be defined as the cost for excess baggage. According to the witness, Commercially Important Passengers get their excess baggage cost waived off as per a policy and this revenue is usually lost by SriLankan Airlines.
According to the witness, this cost is shown in the cost centre document because Nishantha Wickremesinghe had waived off the cost for someone’s excess baggage and wants the airline to pay for that.
2008 – 2009: Rs. 32,000
2009 – 2010: Rs. 703,000
2010 – 2011: Rs. 00.000
2011 – 2012: Rs. 2,652,000
2012 – 2013: Rs. 1,986,000
2013 – 2014: Rs. 1,837,000
2014 – 2015: Rs. 516,000
In total from 2008 to 2015, Nishantha Wickremsinghe had waived off a sum of Rs. 7,726,000.
Speaking to News 1st an expert in ticketing and airlines baggage handling said, the usual rate for excess baggage carried by a commercially important passenger per kilogram would be between Rs. 2500 and Rs. 3000.
If we do the match, Rs. 7.7 Million would have been for around 03 tonnes which is equal to the combined weight of 36 grown men.
According to the witness, only the Commercial Department at SriLankan Airlines would be able to say who the Commercially Important Passengers were for these particular flights.
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