SriLankan board’s wings clipped!

SriLankan board’s wings clipped!

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The board members of SriLankan Airlines, who were summoned before Cabinet yesterday, were instructed on a host of issues, including implementation of the Weliamuna Report, and told to provide salary details of the board and information on recruitments made since their appointment.

The board, which was summoned before the Cabinet following concerns raised by some Cabinet members over the alleged high-handed conduct of SriLankan Chairman Ajith Dias, was “strongly counselled by the Cabinet and instructed to work with more transparency,” a senior SLFP Cabinet Minister told Daily FT on condition of anonymity.

“It was fiery,” said another high-ranking UNP Minister while describing the meeting, which provided a platform for the Cabinet to “clarify distortions” regarding the debt-ridden airline.

The board was severely criticised during last week’s Cabinet meeting for disregarding Public Enterprise Development Minister Kabir Hashim’s instructions and working on their own accord.

The board was asked to implement the report compiled by veteran lawyer J.C. Weliamuna and the committee which investigated financial and ethical malpractices alleged to have taken place at the airline during the tenure of the last Government.

Further, the members were also asked to provide salary particulars of all the board members and details of alleged recruitments, which have been reported to be as high as 1,250 over the last two years. SriLankan has denied the numbers and clarified the recruitments were far less.

Upon being told that that the board was able to reduce the losses incurred by the airline compared to pre-2015 figures, the Cabinet instructed the members to furnish all financial details for their perusal, the SLFP Cabinet Minister said.

It was learnt that the board was also advised to provide details of the restructuring plan for the troubled airline.

Last week SriLankan Airlines announced it had doubled its losses after being hit by high costs of cancelling leases on Airbus aircraft and the partial closure of the country’s main airport. The state-owned national carrier, which is looking for an international partner to help revive its business, incurred an annual loss of Rs. 27.79 billion ($182.50 million), against a loss of Rs. 12.08 billion a year ago.

ft.lk | Chathuri Dissanayake

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