Business Times

EDB fracas continues, meets COPE on June 8

The fracas between directors and the chairman of the Export Development Board (EDB) Janaka Ratnayake continued this week with accusations flying from both sides. This came ahead of board preparations as it has been summoned by the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) on June 8 to check its accounts which are expected to include the budget for the EXPO 2012 fair.

More than six directors at the EDB’s last board meeting on May 3 expressed concern over the EXPO fair budget and asked for a breakdown cost, when Mr Ratnayake sought board approval – after the event was over. Board members refused to comment on what transpired at the meeting but trade union officials and other sources said when issues came to a head, the chairman had walked out “annoyed and arrogant and said he is not answerable to the board or anyone except to the President.”

The board did not approve the budget asking a proper breakdown of the cost, which triggered a dispute with the chairman. Some of the costs incurred in the 140 million-rupee includes event management Rs 44 million, promotion and advertising Rs 10 million, expenses for overseas travel Rs 10 million and hotel accommodation for visitors Rs 40 million.

Official sources said board members had requested a full report on the actual amount spent and to stop all payments and claim damages from the event management as there were major flaws on the opening day when the AC didn’t work.

The sources said the chairman had accused some board members of leaking information to the media because they were not given proper seats when the crux of the issue is that the board was not consulted on the budget for the event, and is keen to ensure transparency in all the transactions. The EDB chairman was not immediately available for comment.

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