A sum of over Rs. 86 million has been spent by Sri Lankan Airlines since 2009 without any consideration made regarding the return for the expenses, to fund the pet projects of Namal ‘baby’.
The BOI inquiry has revealed that due to lack of transparency in SLA’s policy on sponsorships, large sums had been approved as sponsorships by the former Chairman Nishantha Wickramasinghe and the former CEO Kapila Chandrasena for two specific annual events – the Carlton Rugby 7s and the Night Races.
SLA had spent a whopping Rs. 74,137,307 between the period of 2009 – 2014 both in terms of free tickets and promotional items for the Carlton Rugby 7s sponsored by Namal Rajapaksa’s ‘Tharunyata Hetak’ movement.
Meanwhile, for the Night Races, SLA has provided free cargo and free tickets in 2012 an 2013 and the BOI inquiry report notes that it’s not clear whether any form of advertising for the SLA was made in return. In fact, the ONLY return for the SLA expenses for the event had been access to a Corporate box, which the SLA itself had constructed spending over Rs. 2 million.
A further expense had been incurred by the SLA due to ordering food and drinks for the event for 125 pax.
Hence, a total of Rs. 12,380,361 has been expended in 2012 and 1203 by the SLA as their share of funding Namal baby’s projects, which in turn has escalated the total expenses made by the SLA to fund the two events to a Rs. 86,517,669.
The report further notes misappropriations were also committed with concern to awarding contracts to put up hoardings, of which most had been awarded to companies owned by close relatives of Rajapaksa. One such agency is Kumar advertising, which many are familiar with due to the plethora of hoardings that they sponsored and put up all over Colombo last year bearing images of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the infrastructure development carried out by the government as if their expenses were borne out of MR’s pocket.
The report noted; “Priya Epitawala, Manger Network Planning and Research, previously ( in 2011), Manager Advertising on examination stated Kaplia Chandrasena, former CEO introduced a person as the owner of Kumar Stickers.
“Epitahewa has on record indicated that the value of bids from other advertising competitors are comparatively low and she appeared to have been sidestepped.
She informed the BoI that, one day in 2011, the owner of Kumar Stickers had called her and said ‘we do Namal Babege campaign, we don’t have money and we help His Excellency also. Do your best and give us the best’. He also apparently said, if you do not help us, you will also face the same fate as Manoj. Manoj lost his job because he did help us he said.”
Read the full report below: