Audit queries validity of Sri Lanka tourist board assets, delayed EPF payments

ECONOMYNEXT- The state tourism regulator, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has 2.9 billion rupees in assets which cannot be vouched for, the Auditor General’s Department said.

The SLTDA has not submitted any evidence to confirm the ownership of 2.74 billion rupees of property, plant and equipment, 152.42 million rupees in receivables from debtors and 55.57 million rupees in investments, an audit of the agency’s 2016 annual report, released in April, said.

"The items shown in the financial statement could not be satisfactorily vouched or accepted due to non-submission of evidence for audit," Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe said.

The 2015 annual report had a similar lack of evidence for assets worth 2.46 billion rupees.

Wijesinghe said that there was not enough audit evidence to provide an audit opinion in 2016 or 2015 due to several accounting deficiencies.

In 2014, an audit had provided an opinion, except for 97.67 million rupees in unexplained asset ownerships.

Wijesinghe found in the 2016 report that SLTDA has yet to pay 67.57 million rupees to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), through 18.1 million rupees in SLTDA contributions, 27.2million rupees in employee contribution and 22.25 million rupees in surcharges for the period from 2006-2016.

Employees’ Trust Fund (ETF) overdues amounted to 8.5 million rupees.

EPF and ETF payments had been understated during the period, as the SLTDA had accounted for the retirement savings without considering a cost of living allowance and special budget allowance for its employees.





The SLTDA had also spent only 52 percent of its allocated 687.62 million rupees for strategic activities in 2016. 

Wijesinghe said although SLTDA has claimed to have paid 19.7 million rupees in income tax, only 12.34 million rupees were paid.

Taxes SLTDA has collected through the Tourism Development Levy in 2015 had been understated by 7.29 million rupees.

SLTDA is responsible for operating and developing several lands reserved as tourist zones across the island, as well as offices and accommodation units, but only the head office building has been revalued, in 2008, the audit revealed.

Leases of lands and resorts to third parties have not been disclosed, Wijesinghe said.

The SLTDA had made net losses of 3.9 million rupees through all the tourist resorts, with some making large losses covered by others.

Hundreds of millions of rupees in overpayments, dues and receivables were also highlighted in the audit. (Colombo/Apr12/2019-SB)

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