SLPA Faces Scrutiny Over Administrative Weaknesses and Financial Irregularities

In a recent development, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has uncovered a series of administrative weaknesses and irregularities within the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. The findings come as a result of a comprehensive investigation by COPE, shedding light on various issues plaguing the Authority’s operations.

One of the key recommendations arising from this investigation is for the Sri Lanka Ports Authority to submit a proposal within the next three months. This proposal is intended to address critical areas such as increasing revenue, implementing effective cost management strategies, and enhancing overall operational efficiency.

Additionally, COPE’s inquiry has exposed a concerning trend of uncredited funds to the Consolidated Fund, spanning from 2016 to 2021. This revelation raises questions about financial transparency and accountability within the Authority.

Another notable issue brought to the forefront by COPE is the oversight in amending a substantial USD 282.56 million contract. This contract pertains to the purchase of 12 oversize cranes and 40 automatic gantry cranes, which are crucial for maximizing the operational capacity of the east terminal. The failure to address contract amendments could potentially hinder the port’s efficiency.

Furthermore, COPE has expressed concern about the Sri Lanka Ports Authority’s ambitious plan to reduce Colombo Port’s container handling capacity from 81% in 2001 to a mere 28% by 2022. This shift in focus has raised questions about the feasibility and implications of such a substantial reduction.

The investigation also revealed a decline in the number of ships arriving at the ports of Colombo, Galle, and Trincomalee between 2018 and 2022, prompting further scrutiny into the reasons behind this decrease.

Delays in obtaining UNESCO approval for the construction of a multi-purpose terminal at the Galle port have led to the suspension of the project, a matter that COPE has highlighted.

Additionally, the payment of overtime allowances to specific employees, despite an excess workforce of 914 employees, has drawn attention to potential financial mismanagement.

The absence of CCTV camera installations covering all gates and bonded warehouses under the Authority’s jurisdiction has been inquired about, raising security concerns.

Lastly, the malfunctioning of the Night Navigation system at the Trincomalee port has been identified as a critical issue that needs immediate attention.

In a final note, an extravagant expenditure of 1.2 billion for food in the year 2022 has been revealed. As a response to these findings, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority is scheduled to appear before COPE once more on December 8, 2023, to address these critical issues. COPE has also instructed the Authority to rectify existing administrative deficiencies before the summons date, signaling a call for immediate action and accountability. The outcome of this continued investigation and the Authority’s response will be closely monitored to ensure transparency and rectification of the identified issues.

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