The loans obtained in 2017 for the construction of the Hambantota Port were discovered to have been utilized for other reasons during yesterday’s (22) meeting of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).
As a result, it was made public that the Ports Authority had transferred the remaining loan debt as well as the money earned from the port’s 99-year lease to the Treasury in 2017.
However, because the loan’s interest rate was modest, the Treasury used the funds for government spending rather than repaying the loan it had borrowed for the port’s development.
It was also discovered that although though the Treasury has already paid back the loan and interest, it is not identified as a loan payment in the records.
Furthermore, it was discovered in front of the COPE Committee that no publication of government accounts had included the number of foreign loans secured for the development of the Hambantota Port.
These details were discussed during a COPE Committee meeting yesterday (22) to review the 2019–2020 Auditor General’s Reports and the current operation of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. The meeting was presided over by Prof. Charitha Herath.
The COPE Committee Chairman has advised the Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Civil Aviation to take the appropriate actions to include this in the publications and report to the COPE Committee within a month. As a result, the Ministry of Finance has reviewed the issue with the Ports Authority.
Although the Ports Authority was only authorized to employ 9990 people, it was discovered that the hiring processes were complicated and erratic.
It was also discovered that the Management Services Department had not approved the Personnel Recruitment Procedure that the Ports Authority had filed in 2010. According to representatives of the Ports Authority, the institution and the employees’ collective agreements have governed the hiring process and pay range.
It was discovered that the Ports Authority had just approved the postings and had not accepted the suggestions made by the Management Services Department and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
It was also disclosed that the Authority’s pertinent salary scales were not approved, which prevented the recruitment procedure (SOR) from being approved.