Wastage Of Funds Adds To CEB Losses
By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
The Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) had spent over Rs. 6 million last year for the Vidulamu Lanka Arts Festival (Kala Ulela) held on March 15, 2011.
This is despite the fact that the CEB is staggering under a record loss of an estimated Rs. 17 billion in 2011 which is expected to rise to an astronomical Rs. 41 billion this year.
CEB sources told The Sunday Leader that preparations are now being made to organize the arts festival this year too and close to Rs. 10 million has been budgeted for the event.
The Vidulamu Lanka Arts Festival is organized by the welfare division of the CEB and is aimed at encouraging camaraderie and developing the aesthetic abilities of the staff members.
“Although the event was initiated to unite staff members and to help build a better working environment, the venture has now turned out to be a massive waste of CEB funds amidst its mounting losses,” an official from the CEB said.
The shocking levels of wastage in the endeavor have been revealed in the receipts issued for payments made for various matters related to the event at last year’s arts festival.
The festival last year was held at the Folk Art Center in Battaramulla.
Documents in the possession of The Sunday Leader have revealed that the CEB had agreed to pay a sum of Rs. 442,000 for artwork, a banner and make-up, Rs. 135,000 for a short drama Rs. 412,885 for refreshments, Rs. 214,200 for awards to be presented, etc.
The CEB official pointed out that the arts festival could be organized with a budget far less than Rs. 6 million since the event is to promote talent within the CEB.
The payment of Rs. 135,000 to Gamini Jayalath for the short drama to be staged at the arts festival was paid in two installments of Rs. 67,500 each. The final installment was released on September 29, 2011.
The CEB has also issued a pay slip for Rs. 412,885 to Perera & Sons (Bakers) Ltd. for refreshments provided for the arts festival.
The pay slip to Sugathadasa Bandara & Sons (Pvt.) Ltd. for the awards to be handed over to the winners amounting to Rs. 214,200 was issued on March 25, 2011.
A sum of Rs. 442,000 had been paid to K. Suranga for make-up, digital artwork and banner on April 8, 2011.
CEB trade unionist Ranjan Jayalal last week condemned the Board’s officials for permitting such wastage of funds when the institution was facing a financial crisis.
The CEB welfare division is now in the process of organizing a massive tamasha for this year’s event and it is scheduled to be held at the Nelum Pokuna Theater.
This year’s event is scheduled to be held on March 24th.
“The CEB has spent a large sum of money on hiring professionals for work that should be assigned to CEB staff members since it is aimed at promoting their talents,” the CEB official said, adding that there would not be any wastage of funds if the CEB welfare division followed its proper mandate.
When contacted by The Sunday Leader, Welfare Manager of the CEB, M. R. N. G. Ranatunge while admitting that there are accusations within the CEB on the wastage of funds, said that he could not speak to the media since the institution has directed the officials not to speak to the media.
He asked that queries on the Vidulamu Lanka Arts Festival and its expenses be directed to the Board’s Chairman.
“Expenses incurred by the CEB, including the welfare division are done with the approval of the Board of Directors,” he said. CEB Chairman Dr. Wimaladharma Abeywickrema was not available for comment since he is indisposed.