17 April, 2024

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Sri Lankan Airlines Probe: Weliamuna Yet To Disclose Fee Breakdown

J. C. Weliamuna, one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent good governence activists, the former Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka is yet to reveal the amount of money he received as the head of first government-commissioned inquiry into the previous government’s corruption and malpractices.

JC Weliamuna

JC Weliamuna

The Aviation Minister’s ordered probe into the Sri Lankan Airlines costs Rs 3.5 million.

Two days ago Weliamuna speaking to Colombo Telegraph confirmed that he along with his team comprising of senior lawyers U.H. Palihakkara, B.A.W. Abeywardane and M.K. Bandara were paid Rs 3.5 million including all costs for the six week long investigation.

At that time Colombo Telegraph did request for a breakdown from Lawyer Weliamuna but he was not in a position to do so. A subsequent email was sent to him seeking this information. Weliamuna did not respond yet. Yesterday we have again asked him to reveal at least the amount he received as his fee, he has not responded to-date.

“There ought to be transparency on both the framework set for the inquiry and the basis for charging – the danger is this ends with those involved profiteering without [the public gaining] adequate benefits”, a Finance Ministry official told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity.

The final ‘Weliamuna Report’ report was submitted to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the 31st March 2015 and recommended criminal investigations into the entire re-fleeting process and had noted instances where former chairman Wickramasinghe, a brother-in-law of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and airlines’ CEO, Kapila Chandrasena, should be prosecuted.

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  • 8
    2

    The airlines probe was a contract between Weliamuna’s Co. or team and the Aviation Ministry. On a job like this its rarely going to be a one line invoice.
    The engagement letter would have spelled out what was supposed to be done and the invoice at least in summary would have given the cost but its not the responsibility of Mr.Weliamuna to disclose the fee breakdown to the public so this information should be demanded from the ministry and not badgering Mr. Weliamuna.

    • 4
      0

      CT,

      What did the contract say?

      Rs.XXXX/day or Per hour plus expenses? Yes, in the interest of transparency, they should disclose it all, unless there is some restriction to this, between the parties.

      However, they did produce something for the payment. What they produced over 6 weeks, and the cost of Rs.3.5 million, are they in line? They should produce it, so that they can put it behind them, and can focus on the Massive Frauds carried out by the Rajapaksas and their cronies.

      This is penny-wise, pound-foolish, as far as effort is concerned. Put them to work on the Hambantota Harbor Project.

      “The final ‘Weliamuna Report’ report was submitted to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the 31st March 2015 and recommended criminal investigations into the entire re-fleeting process and had noted instances where former chairman Wickramasinghe, a brother-in-law of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and airlines’ CEO, Kapila Chandrasena, should be prosecuted.”

    • 4
      2

      UH Palihakkara is not a lawyer. He is Chartered Accountant and a Past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka and the OPA. He is a very good Buddhist and also a vegetarian, non-smoker and a teetotaler.

      • 1
        0

        So?

      • 0
        0

        “He is a very good Buddhist and also a vegetarian, non-smoker and a teetotaler”

        Good point. Just like Gotabhaya Rajapaksa…

        • 0
          0

          GR drinks wine.

  • 4
    2

    Is he heading the ‘Non-Transparency (Fees and Charges) International’ as well, I wonder.

  • 8
    0

    Transparency boss having no transparency? Well we as Sri Lankans are used to that kind of volte-face. Let us be clear about one thing, the legal fraternity and their impact to the society. They too would like to maintain their socioeconomic standards and charging a price which appears to be high for the normal folks is in fact modest when compared with their usual earnings. Now it is reported that were four lawyers for a six week assignment meaning that the daily earnings per lawyer for the assignment is about 20,833 LKR, whereas the initial consultation of a good or recognized or powerful lawyer can be 100,000 LKR if the client is in a real spot. All these guys will have methods of hiding their income from the Inland Revenue and therefore the public disclosure of individual earnings would be a difficulty for them. (Damn the Transparency). It is because of this attitude of theirs that cases in courts of law gets dragged and encourage people to resort to extra-legal methods to solve problems although they say that justice delayed is justice denied and that is fertile ground for kleptocrats to get elected for power though the very same lawyers oppose that kind of regime shouting “We the people ……”. (How ironic?)

    I may sound crude and not principled. But in order to provide relief to the society at large why not the government, the lawyers and other stake holders get together and device a method where justice is not delayed and at the same time lawyers get their expected earnings, instead of resorting to crude postponements. (A straightforward divorce of a childless couple took five years!)

    • 0
      0

      Dear Jagath
      I fully agree with you. Rs. 20 000/- Rs 25 000/- per person is just panuts when you compare with the traffic policemen or a dengu policemen doing their beat and making their collections.

      The result in the first case is a report to save the country of an economic disaster. whilst the latter is just collecting a fees and allowing the corruption to continue unabated.

      Let the Government go ahead and prosecute. It the Attorny General is unable to do so. Please obtain the services of the Commuissioner Welamuna and his team to do justice, instead of pulling a red herring.

      Levi

      • 0
        0

        I have compared professionals with professionals and not with others in calculating and comparing figures and arrived at a possible and plausible reason why people cannot disclose individual earnings in public. As regards the quality of the report which the WBOI produced, I cannot comment and let the law enoforcement make use of it if there is any material. My emphasis was a bigger problem than Weliamuna, the delays in hearing cases which is now in crippling proportions and threatening the very fabric of democracy in this country.

  • 6
    0

    One claim made in defense of Weliamuna by some is that 3.5 million rupees fee reflects the currents rates for this type of professional consultancy work.

    If so, was Weliamuna offered this job via a process of calling applications for the job?

    Is his team the best for this job and is rate he has charged the most competitive?

    Surely, Weliamuna being a leading yahapalana activist and a follower of like Ranil should have insisted that proper procedure should have followed in awarding this consultancy.

    It is better Weliamuna respond to these queries soon.

    • 2
      0

      Nimal

      “Surely, Weliamuna being a leading yahapalana activist and a follower of like Ranil should have insisted that proper procedure should have followed in awarding this consultancy. “

      Yes, they could have called for tenders, or the projects disclosed looking for contractors.

      Shoddy, corrupt Rajapaksa Cronies and others would bid low, low and low because they have no work to do other than attending Snubs rallies, and even if the contract is given they will not get to the truth. They all are Liara, Crooks and Robbers.

      So, it is better to select from among the few who are “qualified”, not Liars, Not Crooks and not Robbers.

      • 0
        0

        “Shoddy, corrupt Rajapaksa Cronies and others would bid low, low and low”.

        Good point Amarasiri. This is real possibility on all work to be contracted out during the Yaha..ya era in the next 5 to 6 years since Raja..sa’s with all their easy gotten US$18bn and more would continue to bid low, low and low just to get the jobs to launder their ill gotten wealth.

        A very powerful reason to hand pick the few who are “qualified and suitable” for the jobs by Sirisena, Ranil, Mangala , Chandrika etc..

  • 5
    0

    Why CT is so much interested in getting to know the exact fee paid to J. C. Weliamuna for preparing the report for initiating prosecution of those responsible for corruptions in the Sri Lankan Airlines.

    Is it because the higher fee paid will make it compulsory to determine the severity of the findings so as to initiate prosecution?

  • 6
    0

    Ranil are you pussyfooting and trying your best to sweep it under the carpet If action is not taken fast we will ensure that you are out and a new S.L.F.P. will be in power that too only if M.S. does not give nomination to the 56 M.P’s and those who are with him who run with the hares and hunt with the hounds

  • 6
    1

    Rs 35 laks was more than enough for all these repirts we were able to read from Flight safety to management malpractices and political mega deals and corruption.We wouldt have able to get these details otherwise.Mr Welimuna and his team was paid reasanable ammount for fact findinds and coruuption after decades .Some safety issues among pilots came up because of this report.otherwise they been swept under the carpet.So Stop drgging about his fee…before that ask B&S bathi sathrush y they paid Rs 45 laks for three songs sung at a MR opening ceramany last regime, Ask Jack Anthany how he was paid Rs 300 laks for his dancing troupe and the fee for organisubg the openung cera at Haban port.That girl was paid extra Rs 40 laks to provide additional service to baby This report is priceless. ots of masks were removed.hats off Weliamuna and his Team

  • 4
    2

    Please submit details and basis of payment for services rendered as this is public money. Good governance must not only be seen to be done but also must be actually done openly. Practice what you preach.

  • 2
    4

    Don’t tell me this eminent UNP Lawyer with his impeccable record, has taken the LKR 3.5 Mil as Petty Cash..

  • 4
    0

    He is not the cause of all this muck. He possesses the knowledge and expertise to investigate and report. We cannot expect him to do it free,knowing very well how some experts were milking the state with hardly much. but would feel that his professional cost will be in keeping within the industry. Hope that he will be given all encouragement and support to enable him to carry on this good work.

  • 6
    0

    Why do we require the breakdown?

    Well worth it and reasonable at Rs 3.5 million.

    The lowest salary to a pilot is Rs 1 mn per month and a stewardess gets Rs 0.5 mn per month with allowances.

    All deputy chairmen and 20 of them in total at Ceylinco got about Rs 5 mn per month from depositors money 5 years ago.

    Most private bank AGMs get close to Rs 1 mn per month.

    Rs 3.5 mn is very reasonable for the report for 5 professionals.

    Please don’t compare govt salaries with private sector salaries and payment to professionals.

    • 3
      3

      If my memory serves me correctly this is the same excuse the last Rajapaksa supporters use to shout to justify exuberant fees. Surprise – surprise!

  • 4
    0

    Also, can someone tell us the monthly salary of the CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines? Of course, there will be a bungalow, cars, drivers, cooks, domestic aids, free education and other perks to go with…. just to make a massive loss for the company (and the nation).

  • 8
    1

    Even domestic animals have to be rewarded for the tasks they do to humans.

    Politicians spend undeclared amounts of money for their election campaign, voters are bribed or intimidated for their votes. For what are they doing this?
    Is it because they want to serve the community at large or make business out of it when they won. Not long before they won the “seat” their attitude, tone, voice and anything else changes and by the end of their term they have done well for themselves, what with properties, money etc..etc..

    Do you, Colombo Telegraph probe, into their activities ?

    Does the voter in particular and the masses in general know the salary of the President, PM, ministers, councilors, Govt.Directors, School Principals, Police and Military personnel.

    Have you ever given this info to the public ?

    Weliamuna Report cost is Rs.3.5 mln

    You, Col.Tel .point your finger on Mr.Weliamuna “demanding” an answer to your query.

    In an earlier report Mr.Weliamuna has revealed that he was assisted by two other lawyers to present the Air Lanka probe report. He has , however he has not revealed the support staff like stenographers to write notes, cameramen, videographers, general assistants to tend to assist the above crew, a driver
    or two maybe, travel, phone calls, meals and other sundry expenses involved in the investigation of this nature which was never reported by you or any other media during the previous regime because if you did then there was a white van standing in front of your house or office.

    During the previous iron fist rule there was open corruption, bribery, drugs, nepotism, murder, general crime, police inactivity, public intimidation etc..
    did you, ColTel, made any open report on these ?

    With the new found freedom, you are itching to know the breakdown ? For what ?

    Would you or could you provide a breakdown of the General expenses of your own organisation, particularly salaries and whether their social status and expenses are matching their wages. There may be a lot of your reporters who can be bribed for not reporting. Are these income declared ?

    It is my personal opinion that the the cost of the Weliamuna report on Air Lanka has been presented at a very nominal cost and perhaps Mr.Weliamuna is
    reluctant to say that he did not include his own fee and expenses.

    I repeat, the cost of this valuable report, which is said to be Rs.3.5 mln
    is KOS ATTA.

    It must not be forgotten that even a begger has to work hard to earn his daily
    wages.

    • 1
      2

      This guy has no idea about Colombo Telegraph. Go to archives and do your research before making silly comments.

  • 5
    0

    The Rs 3.5 million for 3 lawyers 6 weeks work is probably reasonable. Although in the name of transparency its not unreasonable to demand a cost breakdown.

  • 5
    0

    Weliamuna report highlighted some issues and let the board investigate them.

    The important thing is to do a proper financial investigation to identify the reasons for a loss of Rs 29 bn in 2015 and a cumulative loss of Rs 100 bn over the last 5 years.

    This may cost Rs 10 mn but worth it.

  • 1
    6

    These things are honorary work in other countries. Looks like our so called good governance activist are making money. That is why Weliamuna is not giving the breakdown.

  • 1
    5

    Mr Weliamuna, the father of Transparency in all dealings should come clean. There is nothing prevent his disclosing how much money he appropriated from this payment.

    In the first place I was under the impression it was honorary job done to restore Rule of Law in the Nations Airline.

    If any charge has been made for the job it make the report made less dependable.

    • 7
      1

      It is unfair to ask professionals to do free work.

      Also it will never get done on time

  • 8
    1

    Why are we bothered about his fee considering the rogues he exposed at Srilankan? I assume the rogues are behind this so that they can postpone any action against them and drag on. HR head can be the culprits who try to drag this as there is a rumour he is making a team in the organization to fight against the probe report… Look on to this and this head who thinks that Srilankan airlines is his father’s property misusing funds as he wish and of course wome

    We need to focus on people like this not on the fee we paid which is definitely worthy.

    • 0
      1

      When Mr transparent starting to become bit non transparent don’t blame the messenger ask why the change. Now one don’t want Mr transparent to become hypocrite would you.

  • 1
    7

    There is good money in good governance.
    The angel J.C. Weliamuna the crusader
    on anti corruption is no holy father.

    Why did the Norwegians ask him to leave
    Transparency International Sri Lanka
    branch. He was running bills like a
    three wheeler taxi meter.

    He may push cases from behind the scenes.
    Then he is asked to investigate. Whatever
    comes out, he gets his fee. What a way to
    live Weliamuna?

  • 4
    0

    The author of this article had asked the wrong question. He should have asked Sri Lankan airlines management and the current Aviation
    Minister as to why the report is not studied nor implemented, if he
    is interest to cut waste of public money. The minister himself treated this amount of Rs.3.5 million paid to the lawyers as pea nuts and not insisting on Sri Lankan airline to study or implement the report in full.3.5 million rupees worth of investigation is collecting dust at Sri Lankan airways Chairman’s office, as the staff claim.

    I presume there will be another set of lawyers known to the minister
    will investigate the case again as prestige comes first as the minister, presume does not want to respect a report ordered by
    another minister (Arjuna). This is how the public money is spent
    and PM should be blamed for lack of supervision and to date he had
    not questioned the minister nor the airline management on the report.

  • 3
    0

    it was the Aviation Minister of the government who ordered the probe into the SL Airlines by Mr.Weliamuna and the team of four senior lawyers.They completed their findings and submitted their report to their client the said minister with their fee invoice for Rs.3.5million for the professional work.
    It is the client,in this case the Aviation Minister, who has a right to request a breakdown and not any others, because the question of transparency if any on the said invoice is confined to the two parties to the contract ie.the minister and the team of lawyers and not the general public at large.
    If is the minister who is responsible to the public for responding on the question of transparency if any on the framework set for inquiry and the charging and not Mr..Weliamuna or his team as I see it.

    • 0
      0

      Uthugan,

      There is a correction here in your comment. It was the
      former minister of aviation (Arjuna) who ordered the probe and not the
      current minister. Though the ministry is the same, ministers differ in
      their opinion, because one thinks that he knows better than the other
      and the connections they have also matters. Probably the minister do not see anything wrong in Sri Lankan airlines administration and the report found its resting place in the Chairman’s office and culprits set free and staff who gave evidence to improve the image of the airline , became the victims.

      PM made a hue and cry,on assumption of office, over the colossal losses
      suffered by Sri Lankan airlines, building of an airport,where no planes
      land and paved roads with four lanes, done for the citizens, expecting to own a car,each some time soon by the former regime but he is silent now on the results of many presidential investigations . At least we now know the wealth of Sri Lanka, based on the recent report that 18 billion US dollars were smuggled off the country with no effect on
      the country’s finances.

      all what this govt. should do is to get hold of the hoarded money stacked in foreign banks and get it transferred to the treasury and Sri Lanka will be rich.

      • 0
        0

        Thank you for drawing attention about the Aviation Minister who who ordered the probe.

  • 9
    0

    His professional fees is a matter for the lawyer and client. This whole thing is getting out of control. Lawyers like Romesh De silva, Kanagiswaran,and even the super powerful Namal associates charges a lot more. Should various web-sites and persons start probing them too ? How about the room rates at cinnoman grand where so many rooms are booked by the government? Are they charging too much ? How about the price of a hopper at Kema Sutra or the price of a crab at Crab Ministry ? Too much ?

    • 1
      0

      Harry

      You are dead right . This team of experts has carried out some very important work in a professional manner , and they need to be remunerated accordingly .They are men of integrity , and I doubt they would undertake any such assignment in the future thanks to some petty minded rabble rousers .

  • 5
    0

    It’s hilarious to see CT and some readers want the breakdown of the fee for a service provided in a professional capacity. What does it matter if those professionals hold other office? If this fine comb was used before, Sri Lanka would have saved over Rs. 2,500 billion.
    [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    Excellent topic.

    I think this lawyer was [Edited out]

  • 3
    0

    Jagath Fernando.

    Spot on!
    If a Stewardess is paid Rs:500,000 per mensem,continuosly,the payment of Rs:3.5M to the probe,which exposed the whole sordid affair at Srilankan airlines is reasonable.If one computes the other services provided by the Stewardesses,for which they get paid,Weliamuna claim amounts to a Toddy claim for a champagne job!

  • 1
    0

    on what basis was this payment made? does a government inquiry can be done under such huge payments. Aren’t there any regulations governing payments?

  • 0
    0

    Ct stop this witch hunt. he has disclosed the total fee paid. I think that is enough. Don’t we face bigger issues at the moment?

  • 0
    0

    “Meeyak kadanneat ha leva kanna dha..??” goes the saying. Who among us are the fools who believe Weliamuna was on a mission to clean up the act and not to line his pockets with dough while defaming his political opponenets? How come he did not utter a word on the failure of the Board of Directors and the Company Auditors – all of who were either his mates or members of the cabal in his three million report?.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Sirs

    Good Professionals be it Doctors, Engineers, Lawers, Surveyors and Etc Cost Money.

    A Good professional do not bid for jobs.

    it is only Contractor;s who bid.

    You need the service of a Professional You as a client check on the credentials before yor approach one then decide and approach.

    A professional is not oblighed to disclose his earnings to all and sundry. That includes Colombo Telegraph.

    A professional is not employed by any one in the real sense. Their services are solicited and obtained by the client.

    Weliamuna commission’s services were obtained and they gave a report.

    We should now question what action were taken on the report to date and not question the fees paid.

    We should question the dealar who obtained the services whether the professional engaged by him is fit for the burden entrustusted on him. That question too should have been raised long before the conclusion of the inquiry.

    if there is a question of the ability of the selected or if the final finding is wanting. It is fine for us to start the debate on it.

    Cheers

    Levi

  • 0
    0

    CT is just shooting in the dark… this 3.5m is peanuts when compared to the stolen, wasted, privately used funds,wasted by the airline shareholders and management.
    People just get dragged into this useless topic and it becomes a another Ex.Chairman’s ROLEX topic..he is still wearing it.

    Agree if the report has made some progress,curtailed some expenses, I am sure we may have saved ten times this amounts.. PM please stop pussyfooting and act on it…IBE, Cargo aircraft,appointments.. can save more than 10 m in a week.

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