COPE chief faults CEB in audit battle over Sri Lanka’s LTL group

ECONOMYNEXT – The head of a parliamentary committee probing Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board, who is waging a battle to for government Auditor Generals oversight over LTL Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, a majority owned unit, has faulted directors for approving a private auditor.

Sunil Handunetti, Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises said Sri Lanka’s Attorney General had already given an opinion that the state Auditor General should audit the firm which is 63 percent owned by the Ceylon Electricity Board.

All majority owned commercial state enterprises are expected to be audited by the AG.

He faulted CEB Chairman Rakitha Jayawardena for not appointing the full number of directors that the CEB is entitled to appoint to the board of LTL, where the majority of voting rights were held by the CEB. He asked him to speedily fill any vacancies.

He also questioned the appointment of a private auditor to LTL.

“How did the board of LTL appoint a private auditor, when the Attorney General had already given an opinion?,” Handunetti asked.

He was told that there was a court case questioning the move to appoint the Auditor General as auditor.

“Why is there so much resistence? What are they trying to hide?” Handunetti questioned.

Former junior power minister Ajith Perera said there was culture of independent management at LTL where business decisions had been made and a way had to be found to spin it off.

LTL started as a joint venture with a UK firm to made transformers, which was subsequently acquired by ABB, a Swiss power group.

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LTL had expanded by bidding for CEB power projects, many of which were competitive – except for a plant in Kerawalapitiya – and affiliates had also gone abroad.

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Officials pointed out that the CEB is getting its share of dividends.

Handunetti said he did not want to interfere with the business decisions of LTL, but until a policy decision by the government to spin it off, he wanted the Auditor General to audit it.

Some affiliates of LTL are no longer directly connected to the CEB. (Colombo/Oct09/2019)