The Auditor General in a latest report to Parliament last Thursday (15) slammed the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) for alleged fraud, corrupt activities, financial irregularities, dubious land deals and mismanagement, authoritative sources disclosed to The Nation.
The Auditor General had pointed out that the SLPA had assessed a land not belonging to it as assets and assessed such land to the value of Rs.700 million using a private audit firm in the final accounts distorting the accounts disregarding the statute.
Furthermore, investigations have revealed that Rs.455.5 million had gone waste out of Rs.6,000 million aid contract from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation for the construction of a breakwater at the Galle Port and the contract had been abandoned midway. Operations of the Galle Port had been identified by the Auditor General at a very weak level over the past three years showing a loss of Rs.1,023 million.
It has been pointed out by the Department of Public Enterprises of the General Treasury that the SLPA had suffered a foreign exchange loss of Rs.4.4 billion in 2010 and the projected foreign exchange loss for the current year has been estimated at Rs.7.5 billion.
Among the other findings by the Auditor General on SLPA to Parliament and the Committee on Public Enterprises are:
* A block of land 1.45 perches in extent of the Ports Authority situated along Rock House Lane had been assessed for an unusual value of Rs.1,232,500,000 through a private Audit Firm and brought to account as an asset of the Ports Authority. In addition, two blocks of land not belonging to the Ports Authority had been assessed for Rs.700 million through the private Audit Firm and shown as an asset in the final accounts, thus distorting the accounts.
*Even though a sum of Rs.455.5 million had been spent under the construction contract of Rs.6,000 million under the Aid Program of the Japan Bank for International Co-operation for the construction of a breakwater of the Port of Galle, the contract had been stopped halfway from December 31, 2008. As such the expenditure had become fruitless.
* A project for the Expansion and Enhancing the Efficiency of the Port of Colombo had been implemented under the Asian Development Bank and Sri Lanka Ports Authority, and the Asian Development Bank had spent a sum of Rs.1,198.97 million on the consultancy services of the project and out of that a sum of Rs.877.63 million had been spent from the foreign loan.
Nevertheless, all the recommendations under the enhancement of the efficiency component had been abandoned without implementing even a single recommendation. As such 1/3rd of the expenditure on consultancy or Rs.399.65 million relating to the enhancement of efficiency component had become fruitless. Obtaining consultancy services for matters that cannot be implemented needs to be discussed by the Committee.
*Even though a food supply center and a sanitary buildings system had been constructed in the year 2008 at a cost of Rs.17,199,371 under the Galle Face Development Project, it had not been rented out or opened for the general public up to date.
*The restaurant maintained by the Port of Colombo and the monopoly rights of the sale of cool drinks at the trade stalls of the Galle Face Green had been sold for Rs.5.5 million by a trade union without the approval or the consent of the Authority.
*Even though a period exceeding two years had elapsed after the opening of the Hambantota Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksha Port, the arrival of ships at present is at a very low level. The major reason for that was observed as the non- installation of gantry cranes, making it difficult to handle containers. Action to be taken to make it an international port and to earn income from the port as well as the future plans on construction and development works.
* The operations of the Port of Trincomalee are at a very weak level and had incurred losses continuously. The losses incurred in the past three years amounted to Rs.379 million, Rs.319 million and Rs.383 million respectively