ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's State Enterprise Development minister Kabir Hashim vowed to "clean up the mafia" at Sri Lankan airlines and accused its chairman Ajith Dias of sweeping corruption of the previous regime under the carpet.
The minister said he disagreed with Dias who had dismissed findings of a far reaching anti-corruption report that examined the corruption and irregularities under the former regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He said the Sri Lankan board had been appointed soon after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took office and he (the minister) had no direct control, but was clearly unhappy with the loss-making carrier's management.
He said a "mafia of the former regime" was still operating at Sri Lankan and was being shielded by the management.
"I regret that I have not been able to make any changes, but I am determined to clean up the place," Hashim said. "I will not give up. I will fight to get rid of them."
Official sources said a security officer against whom the Weliamuna Board of Inquiry recommended disciplinary action had been given two extensions of employment by Dias. The move has irked senior levels of the cabinet.
Dias had also side-stepped allegations that his predecessor provided services of air hostesses to politicians making it a paradise for sexual predators.
Dias dismissed the allegations as "personal matters not within our purview."
In April 2015, the Weliamuna report said Sri Lankan Airlines was a paradise for sex predators, with the top management demanding sexual favours from cabin crew and young employees, leading to a breakdown of discipline at all levels.
The Board of Inquiry of Weliamuna found that Pradeepa Kakulawala, the head of Human Resources, adopted a laissez-faire attitude towards sexual harassment that allowed perverts a free run. No action had been taken against him.
Minister Hashim said although Dias had failed to take action against those named in the Weliamuna BoI report, the government was conducting a criminal investigation iin the $2.3 billion aircraft re-fleeting under Rajapaksa.
(COLOMBO, January 20, 2017)