SriLankan Airlines trade unions call for investigation on committee appointed to probe Airbus deal

by Staff Writer 08-02-2020 | 9:17 PM
COLOMBO (News 1st):- Trade Unions attached to SriLankan Airlines made a request, to conduct an investigation on the four-member committee appointed during a Board of Directors meeting at the Speaker's Residence to look into the Airbus Deal. The Chairman of the Nidahas Sewaka Sangamaya at the SriLankan Airlines, Janaka Wijepathiratne says:
"Citing the allegations raised by multiple parties, that several irregularities had taken place when purchasing Airbus aircraft in 2013, we urged the senior management of SriLankan Airlines to launch an investigation into this matter. Even though certain measures were taken in this regard, such as a preliminary investigation and the Weliamuna report, nothing effective happened. Afterward, the government spends nearly US$ 110 million as penalty fees, to cancel the previous aircraft agreement. We know four individuals who were part of the senior management team of SriLankan Airlines back then, are involved in this matter. As a trade union, we urge the government to launch a proper investigation into this matter and to reveal a clear picture in this regard."
On the 8th of February 2019, the following was discussed in parliament, with regard to the much-criticized agreement to cancel the purchasing of the respective aircraft. Former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa had said:
"I called the then chairman of SriLankan Airlines, Chandrasena in this regard. There was a COPE meeting that morning. But it was postponed to the evening. So he went there for the meeting. But during the meeting, no decision was reached on any transaction. I request him to show me those documents. No decision was reached. The meeting continued till evening. If any decisions were taken, I urge you to show me the relevant documents. I will resign from my position tomorrow."
When challenged by the Chairman of COPE, Sunil Handunetti that they are in possession of all these documents, Chamal Rajapaksa had responded saying:
"Produce the report, and the minutes of the meetings, and the decisions that were reached. My son was part of the executive board as well. I accept the fact that the meeting was held at my official residence. However, what is important is whether any decision was reached that day."
To this, Chairman of COPE said: "According to the report presented by the auditor general, the board paper on the 44th page of the report states that it was presented during the board meeting that took place at the official residence of the speaker, on the 1st of March 2013. Further, the new strategic plan for 2012 - 2017 named Market Outlook prepared by Seaberry, was also presented with a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting. The five members of the board who were present that day had also granted approval to implement the recommendations in the said board paper. I will include this to the Hansard." MP Sunil Handunetti who was reappointed as the chairman of the COPE requests that the board meeting that took place at the official residence of the then speaker should be looked into once again.