The Sunday Leader

Several Irregularities At TSHDA

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

  • Posts at the TSHDA have been filled by unqualified individuals
  • Employees who have refused to give in to the demands of some superiors are often sacked
  • A large share  of the posts at the TSHDA have been given to political stooges and associates
Several irregularities are alleged to have taken place at the Tea Small Holdings Development Authority (TSHDA). According to reports posts at the Authority have been filled by unqualified individuals.

Making political appointments has been a common occurrence under all the governments since independence. The Yahapalana government is no different.

According to officials at the Authority, employees who have refused to give in to the demands of some superiors are often sacked by accusing them of false wrongdoings. The matter has already been raised by the Auditor General’s Department, the Board of Directors at the Tea Small Holdings Development Authority and its affiliated trade unions.

Due to the mismanagement of the Authority, the small and medium tea estate sector, that plays a significant role in the country’s export industry, has had problems.

Speaking about the issues, a senior official at the Authority said that the officials appointed to key posts do not possess the required qualifications. According to reports a large share  of the posts at the Tea Small Holdings Development Authority have been given to political stooges and associates.

However, refuting such allegations, the Secretary of the Plantation Industries Ministry Upali Marasinghe said that all appointments are made according to the due procedure and that the Ministry is vigilant on such matters.

Before the Yahapalana government came into power there was a circular on Public Administration to make casual employees in the state sector permanent.

However,  in some instances several institutions have carried out these appointments on political favours. Now these institutions are suffering due to the consequences of these political appointments. Since these employees have already been receiving salaries for over a year, removing them from service has also become problematic.

According to reports, this problem can also been seen at the Tea and Rubber Research Institutes as well. Although the top administrative authorities of these institutions have pledged to the Cabinet to provide a solution to this problem, no decision has been taken on the matter so far. The matter has also been referred to the Minister of Labour affairs and according to a Cabinet source, the matter has been delayed due to the possibility of having a bad precedence on the matter.

Sources revealed that the Assistant General Manager of Tea Small Holdings Development Authority has issued an appointment letter for a Human Resources  Manager as appointed by the chairman of the Authority from 01.01.2003 under the letter No:A/July 917 by violating the procedural steps that have to be followed in making such an appointment.

The detailed description of the irregularity has been made in a letter sent by the Auditor General’s Department to the Tea Small Holdings Development Authority.

According to the procedural rules, the position could only be given to someone who has passed the GCE OL examination with four Credit passes including Sinhala, English and Mathematics. Apart from that the candidate should also possess not less than 12 years of experience in the executive level in the field.

However, the appointment has been made solely based on the norm of providing relief to those who had been subjected to political revenge by giving such personnel prominence over other qualified candidates.  Furthermore, the official has been paid a monthly salary of Rs.18,385 even though the  salary due to him is Rs.17,670.

When queried the Secretary of the Plantation Industries Ministry said that no such position has been approved by the ministry. The Secretary has also sent a letter stating these points. According to the Secretary, the said person is currently working at an assistant position, for which he has sufficient qualifications.

At Director board meetings the audit and management committee recommendation paper No: 4677 NRC/07/35/249/SR has been presented describing how the salaries should be paid for those who belong to the positions that are not entitled to promotions.

However such salary scales have been manipulated to pay higher sums for this official. This official has been appointed to a grade 4 assistant project manager’s position from 08.05.2007 and from 02.08.2010 he has been appointed as a grade 3 assistant general manager (HR and Administration). Furthermore, the board of directors has given the approval for him to act as the secretary to the  Board of Directors.

According to the recruitment procedure issued by the Department of management services from 31.01.2011 onwards, all the recruitments and promotions should be carried out according to due procedures. Accordingly, this appointment has been made by violating these rules. In case of making a temporary position the candidate should have fulfilled all the necessary qualifications. Hence several trade unions including the national workers union of the Small tea estates authority, the joint trade professionals union and the Tea project technical officers association have informed about the matter in writing to the Auditor General’s Department and the Plantation industries ministry secretary.

According to reports, recruitments have been made during the previous administration for positions that are not even available at the Authority.

Most of these appointments have been made on political grounds to please political stooges. Some of them had even held high positions at the Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya. However, they have now become stooges of the present government continuing the destruction of the institution. Apart from that, these stooges have also been able to get rid of some officials in the Authority who had given in to their demands by making false allegations against them. Speaking on the matter,  an ex-employee W.V.B.S Surasinghe says that the chairman has assaulted him accusing him of making petitions. He claims that he was put on retirement one year prior to the right time by making false accusations against him. He has already made a complaint to the Police regarding the assault. When we queried from the Secretary to the  Ministry , he said that he has heard about such an incident and that he had been abroad at that time.  All attempts made to contact the chairman of the Tea Small Holdings Development Authority, Wijayaratne Devagedara were unsuccessful as he was overseas. Speaking about the future plans of the Tea Development Authority, the Secretary said that the issue of having incompetent officials at the authority has become a serious problem.

1 Comment for “Several Irregularities At TSHDA”

  1. Another hell hole of corruption.

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