The Ministry of Defence calls on academics to sit on Technical Evaluation Committees for defence purchases, gives them less than 24 hours to review documentation and then finally blames academics when things begin to go wrong, an ex-senior academic at the University of Moratuwa has claimed.
In response to a statement made in a speech by Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa who said that many national professionals leave Sri Lanka for higher paying jobs abroad, Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara, a senior lecturer at the Moratuwa University between 2003-2007, said he and fellow academics were often called to sit on TECs of the Ministry of Defence. Dr. Nanayakkara said often those committees were chaired by Defence Secretary himself. ”
“Very often the documents to be reviewed were delivered on the same day the TEC meeting was held depriving us of enough time to do a credible review. Very often, I had only the time during the ride from Moratuwa to ministry of defense to review the documents. Due to the urgency of many such purchasing decisions, we signed those documents based on complete trust in Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the chair of the committee,” he explains.
But Dr. Nanayakkara notes that it was very unfortunate that the Ministry of Defence itself took to exposing the names of professionals and the recommendations of those TECs when things went wrong. “It seemed to us that the professionals who were kept in the darkness whole throughout the TEC process were just used as a cleansing shield in the event things go wrong. I am not alone in this concern. One can check with any academic in the University system in Sri Lanka on this,” he explains.
Responding to the fraud said to have taken place when purchasing MIG 27 fighters for Sri Lanka Air Force, the Ministry of Defence exposed the names of the Technical Evaluation Committee.
According to the MOD the members of the MIG TECs were, Air Marshal Roshan Goonethilake (Chairman), Air Commodore EGJP de Silva (Director Aeronautical Engineering SLAF), a Senior Lecturer from the University of Moratuwa, Mr. HD Weerasiri (Accountant- Ministry of Defence), Mr. VJ Premarathne (Deputy Director Airworthiness- Civil Aviation Authority), and Mrs. KDR Olga (Accountant-Department of National Budget).