SriLankan chairman gets ticking off from Prime Minister
By Our Political Correspondent
Oct 25, 2017 10:31 AM GMT+0530 | 2 Comment(s)
ECONOMYNEXT - Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe delivered a public dressing down to SriLankan Airlines chairman Ajith Dias who is already on notice by the cabinet of ministers who accuse of him of being incompetent.
The latest outburst from Prime Minister Wickremesinghe came on Tuesday at a national economic affairs meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena who had also indicated his desire to have the entire SriLankan board sacked.
"If you can't work with your minister (Kabir Hashim), I will appoint a board that can," a top source at the meeting said quoting Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
Both the President and the Prime Minister were livid when Dias tried to canvass support to bypass government procurement procedures and secure more financial autonomy for SriLankan, a fully state-owned company.
The committee flatly rejected Dias and cabinet seniors reminded Wickremesinghe of his promise to sack the SriLankan board in June when several ministers alleged that Dias was acting as a "government within a government."
Dias, a mate of Wickremesinghe at Royal College, is also known to be at odds with several members of his own board.
Ministers pointed out that the Sri Lankan board was yet to fully respond to several questions raised by them in June regarding salaries and recruitment without the knowledge of the State Enterprise Development minister Hashim.
Hashim, who is responsible for the national airline, vowed earlier this year to "clean up the mafia" at SriLankan, but has failed because Dias was said to be ignoring the minister and leveraging his relationship with the Premier.
However, during Tuesday's unusual outburst, the Prime Minister made his displeasure public and indirectly suggested to Dias that it was better for him to quit before he was sacked, an official at the meeting said.
There had been several complaints made to the Prime Minister against Dias, the sources said.
High on the list is a request by the President himself to ensure justice to a senior pilot Sujith Jayasekera who had been suspended following a flawed investigation. Dias had ignored the president's wishes and insisted he be sent a written request from the president. The President was visibly upset when it was conveyed back to him and said he would take it up with the Prime Minister.
(COLOMBO, October 25, 2017)