Written by Staff Writer
20 Feb, 2020 | 7:51 pm
Colombo (News 1st) – The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE)which convened a meeting at the parliamentary complex yesterday, discussed extensively with regard to the Airbus aircraft re-fleeting deal. Several matters regarding the controversial deal including the manner in which discussions were held and the individuals involved in the process had surfaced during the meeting.
Auditor General Chulantha Wickramaratne speaking at the occasion noted that this was one of the biggest transactions in the country and that it had taken place without cabinet approval or without the clearance of the Attorney General. He added that as the Board of Directors had been the ultimate authority in this deal, they must be held responsible for this.
MP Wijeywadasa Rajapaksa questioned whether there was a plan before a decision was taken on the deal, as the value of the deal (US$2.8bn) far outweighed the total assets oqwned by SriLankan airlines which stood at US$ 19mn.
At this point a member of SriLankan airlines who was summoned before COPE spoke up and noted that the Finance division of the airline had notified the board of directors that the cash strapped airline did not have adequate funds to proceed with the deal and that it was finding it difficult to keep up with it’s daily expenses.
MP Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa noted that the Board of Directors should take responsibility for what has happened, adding that the Auditor General and the Attorney General should take action against them.
It was revealed once again that the meeting regarding the purchasing of Airbus aircraft on March 1st, 2013 had taken place at the official residence of the then Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa. One of Chamal Rajapaksa’s sons was on the Board of Directors of Sri Lankan Airlines, at the time of the deal.
The matter was further debated in Parliament today …
“Back then SriLankan airlines chose Seabury consulting for advisory services. But today, the auditor general, in his reports says they do not accept the responsibility for purchasing or selecting wide-body aircraft. An executive board meeting was convened at the then speaker Chamal Rajapaksa’s official house residence on the 01st of March 2013. The memorandum that included all the decisions to be taken was drafted a day before, on the 28th of February. This report was presented during the meeting on the 1st of March. They claimed there was a COPE meeting that day. But this COPE meeting began at 9 am and finished at 11 am. If they wanted, they could have had the meeting there. So why did they go to the speaker’s house for a meeting? Because the board included Chamal Rajapaksa’s son, Sasheendra Rajapaksa. What’s even more important to note is, three members who were summoned for the COPE meeting, did not attend the executive board meeting. So these decisions were taken by a group comprising of only four executive board members. The report reveals that a majority was taken by Kapila Chandrasena.” – JVP MP Sunil Handunetti
“..If funds worth 2 million dollars was given to the CEO, what happened to the rest? Did Kapila Chnadrasena take 380 million without the knowledge of Mahinda Rajapaksa or Nishantha Wickremesinghe? The government canceled a ten-year agreement to take over Sri Lankan airlines, which was generating a profit of 4.4 billion during the financial year 2007/2008. The present government is now bringing in an amendment to the vote on account. Kapila Chandrasena was a respected individual during the Rajapaksa regime, and this is why he was promoted. This was all a game that they played. Such a thing cannot be done by the CEO himself. The nephew of Mahinda Rajapaksa was part of the airline’s senior management back then. I am not saying mistakes did not take place during our government. But the wrongdoers must be punished. When a loss of 700 million rupees was incurred from one hand, another 11 billion loss was incurred on the other. The general public must question themselves, will they vote for this government in the upcoming election?..” – UNP MP Nalin Bandara
“.. No one speaks about the fraud that took place when purchasing aircraft and canceling agreements. We are aware that when canceling certain foreign agreements, cabinet approval must be obtained. But orders were given by Ranil Wickremesinghe’s senior financial advisor to his brother who was the head of the airlines, to cancel the agreement, without the knowledge of the then subject minister, and without the approval of the attorney general and the cabinet. The airlines had to pay 115 million US dollars as penalty fees for canceling the agreement. Advisor the finance minister goes to discuss this matter. The respective company says, if the agreement is canceled, you will have to pay a heft penalty fee. They said, we will pay, and thereafter, we can share this amount. The government suffered a loss of 115 million US dollars while Airbus got 85 from that. 25 million of that was shared among a group of powerful politicians and an airline official. In a few more days, we will reveal everything and the names of those who benefitted from all the commissions. They all must be punished. The government must take legal action against both of these cases..” – Mahindananda Aluthgamage, State Minister of Renewable Energy & Power
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