The Sunday Leader

Authority Misused For Personal Gain

By Nirmala Kannangara

Upali Liyanage and Letter From Secretary

Upali Liyanage, Chairman Ceylon Fishery Harbours Corporation has come under severe criticism for recruiting his supporters to the Ceylon Fishery Harbours Corporation (CFHC) permanent carder and granting them promotions, salary increments and other allowances bypassing government regulations since his appointment in January 2012.
In addition to the recruitments, Liyanage is also accused of misusing corporation property to his whims and fancies that he claims his entitlements.

“From the time he was appointed as the Chairman CFHC, he recruited more than 1000 employees to the corporation which is more than double the amount of the required carder. Notwithstanding to recruitments, he made them permanent thus granting them salary increments, promotions and other allowances,” said an employee on condition of anonymity.
According to him, although instructions have been given to him by the then Ministry Secretary to cancel all such illegal appointments, promotions and salary increments given, Liyanage did not heed the instruction but kept on misusing his authority.

In a letter dated January 23, 2012 the then Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ministry Secretary Dr. Damitha de Soyza urged Chairman Upali Liyanage to follow circular instruction when recruiting new staff. The letter further states, “ President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanted me to instruct you to follow circular instructions in recruitments and to cancel all new recruitments, promotions and salary increments you have made since your appointment to the post of Chairman CFHC”. It further says that when Secretary De Soyza informed President Rajapaksa’s directives to Minister Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, the Minister had already instructed CFHC General Manager to rectify the matter.

“Hence you are requested to take immediate action to rectify the flaws made by you, please make arrangements to inform the Minister and the President as to what action you have been taken in this regard.  In respect to the decisions taken with the Additional Secretary (Administration) for the important posts in your institution and until approvals are granted, I hereby instruct you not to make any recruitment for any such post”. Although instructions were given to Liyanage according to the source the Chairman failed to abide by the rules.

“It was questionable as to why the superior officers were unable to take stern action against the Chairman for disregarding the Ministry instructions,” said the sources. Meanwhile, Liyanage is further accused of obtaining CFHC security to his private residence paying overtime for three security guards.

“Senior Security officer II, M.A.P.K.M. Perera, junior security Officer Ajith Jinasena and Junior Security Officer J.A. Nandaratne has been assigned to provide security to Chairman Liyanage’s private residence in Thalawathugoda.
We do not mind whether Liyanage has any type of security for his residence. But our concern is that the company had to bear the cost when the institution is incurring huge losses and the employees have been deprived of many benefits,” said the sources.

The sources further alleged that although a luxury jeep has been given for the Chairman’s use, another luxury car has been hired at a cost of over Rs.100, 000.

“Although a car was hired for the Chairman’s use, company jeep the Chairman refused to use is now being used by his family. Although we have submitted all these details to the Ministry, it is dishearten as to how the higher ups have failed to take any action against the misuse of company property,” he added.

However refuting allegations, Upali Liyanage said that he has taken approval from the Salaries and Carder Commission to absorb more employees to fill vacancies in all fishing harbours in the country.

“How many fishing harbours are there in the country? If I won’t send the necessary number of employees how can these harbours function? I have not violated any government regulations. Yes I have already recruited more than 1000 to CFHS and when time comes I have to give them the promotions and salary increments which is the normal practice,” he added.
In regard to the security he has obtained from CFHC, the Chairman said, “I am entitled for security. It was the board of directors that approved security for my residence.The Chairman also said that he had to hire a vehicle for his use and added that the company jeep is for him to visit sites.

I am using two vehicles and the car in which I travel to office was hired after calling for quotations with the approval of the board of directors. I have not done anything secretly and the company pays Rs.125, 000 per month as the rental. I have neither misuse my powers or public property. There is a certain employee whom I sacked over some irregularities. It is he who misleads the media to sling mud at me. My superiors know that I have always performed my duties transparently. My hands are clean and no one can accuse me for any wrongdoing,” added Liyanage.

However Acting Secretary Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry A.P.G. Kithsiri said that he knew nothing about any illegal recruitment made by the CFHC but added that he has to find out as to whether the former Secretary has wanted Chairman Liyanage to stop illegal recruitments.
“Since I am acting in this post till the return of the Ministry secretary from abroad I am not aware of such instructions given by the former Secretary,” he added.

When asked whether the Chairman can obtain security for his residence from the institutions and whether he is entitle to use two vehicles, the Acting Secretary said that in case of an emergency security could be obtained from the institution but only for a shorter period.
“If there is a threat it is understandable that the company provides security but not every day. In regard to the vehicles, a Chairman is entitled for an official vehicle and he can obtain another vehicle if the vehicle he uses is out of order,” he added.

 

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