The Prime Minister’s office has commenced a special investigation into Felix Rodrigo, a Senior Advisor to Tourism Development And Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga, over an alleged attempt to pay over Rs. 6 million to a company owned by his brother for an event hosted by the Ministry.
The event “The Royal Wedding Ceremony of Sri Lanka” (RWCS 2017) in which 100 Chinese couples got married in Sri Lanka was partly initiated by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Bureau (SLTPB), in December, last year. At a press conference held in this regard, Udaya Nanayakkara, the then Chairman of the SLTPB, said the Sri Lankan government did not have to pay “a single cent” to organize the event as private partners would take care of the expenses.
Soon after the event however, Nanayakkara had received a directive on Rodrigo’s recommendation to pay Rs. 6 million to a private company for “handling” the event. Upon inquiry, Nanayakkara had found that the company was owned by a brother of Rodrigo who was instrumental in the sending the directive.
Sources from the Prime Minister’s Office said Nanayakkara, at that point, had flatly refused to pay the money as he thought it was ‘suspicious’. Nanayakkara had also stated the SLTPB was not in a position to pay a private company over the event as he publicly stated that the ‘government money’ would not be used.
Nanayakkara had told his staff that he did not even know about Rodrigo’s company until he saw the Ministry’s directive.
“Interestingly, just weeks after this refusal, Nanayakkara was summarily sacked from his job by the Minister,” a source close to the former SLTPB Chairman said, adding that Nanayakkara had complained to the Prime Minister’s Office over this ‘strange bill’ and his sudden dismissal.
A spokesman from the Prime Minister’s Office as Nanayakkara had refused to pay the bill, the money had not been paid to the company owned by Rodrigo’s brother. Therefore, the matter has not been sent to the Bribery Commission but we understand that it is clearly a suspicious attempt. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s Office will inquire into the conduct of the officer,” a spokesman from the Prime Minister’s office said.
He also added that the report of the inquiry would be sent to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for necessary action.
When Colombo Telegraph attempted to contact Rodrigo to get his comment on the matter, an official from the Tourism Ministry refused to share his personal contact details. (By Thilini Karunarathne)