Despite heavy criticism leveled against the current Managing director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) Charmarie Maelge due to her unprofessional and unethical behavior, coming hot on the heels is her obvious favoritism to a male Assistant director who has been included in the Sri Lankan delegation to the World Travel Mart (WTM ) that will take place early November.
The annual presence of Sri Lanka at the World’s largest travel trade show is usually marked with participation of the local industry, officials of the SLTPB and the Minister in charge of the subject. SLTPB is usually represented by its Chairman,Managing director or a person who holds a director position and the market officer. However, it is reported that Maelge has deliberately excluded SLTPB chairman Kishu Gomes and included a male Assistant Director who is not the “officer-in-charge of the UK market. Hence, SLTPB delegation will now include its Managing Director, Director (Marketing ), Market officer and an additional male officer who has been hand picked by the Managing director herself. Due to this sudden inclusion total travel cost of the delegation will exceed more than LKR three million.
What is shocking is the conduct of Maelge who has strongly objected when a female additional secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Development, Wild life and Christian religious affairs had opposed to the purported move to include the particular Assistant Director to the delegation with no valid reason, citing that the inclusion of an additional officer who neither handled nor had previous exposure in the market would add no value to the event. Unsubstantiated cost of this inclusion is seemingly an act of abuse of state funds at the behest of personal preferences. The said additional director currently faces an investigation on the undue promotion bestowed on him, overlooking many competent officers, by the SLTPB management that represented previous regime in 2014.
Reportedly Maelage has threatened the additional secretary and obtained approval for the questionable additional director to be included in the delegation. Raucous SLTPB Managing director had justified her decision pointing out that it was her sole decision and that she could get any approval using Minister John Amarathunga’s clout and that the additional secretary had no right to question her arbitrary decision. Reputed public Servant who is an additional secretary administration in the ministry of tourism development, after the incident, has reported the incident to senior ministerial hierarchy and the continuous unprofessional conduct of the SLTPB managing director. Insulting approach by the SLTPB Managing director towards the senior ministerial officer has drawn heavy flak from the ministerial senior staff, industry and tax paying travel agents questioning why such an inclusion of an officer was made while excluding its own chairman whose participation is of highest priority.
“Recent baseless market reshuffles, unwarranted favoritism to certain staff members and board of directors and constant threats and intentional discrimination of several SLTPB staff have been highlighted by many as unbecoming behavior of a top government official, specially a person appointed to promote the country with sound people’s skills,” the Ministry sources told Colombo Telegraph.
“However, the Minister and his staff have failed in addressing the issues despite severe criticism against Maelge during recent times. Further the male assistant director in question Viranga Bandara currently faces several inquires including a major investigation by the tourism ministry as to how he got his unjustifiable promotion in 2014 by the then chairman of SLTPB violating the government procedures. Meantime Maelge has failed to produce her qualifications to prove suitability to hold the Managing Director position as her appointment had been made at the intervention of an advisor to the subject minister with out considering her educational back ground and required competencies,” our sources further said. (By Maga Senarat)