EBD Chairman Janaka Ratnayake has written to the Business Times over its reports in the past two weeks on issues relating to the budget of the EXPO 2012.
On the Business Times report on May 6 which said that "some financial irregularity issues on the recent Sri Lanka Expo 2012 Exhibition", he says no such issue was raised by the Board members, as the estimated budget of Rs.200 million had been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers at its meeting held on 28th September 2011.
He says the EDB managed to complete the event within a budget of Rs.140 million which was approved by the Board at its meeting held on March 6. Certain members requested for a detailed breakdown of the expenditure of the Expo 2012 and “I have instructed the Director/Finance, EDB to submit a detailed expenditure statement to the next Board meeting.”
Referring to the report dated, May 13, the Business Times said "questions were raised by the directors about the cost of staging the event," he said the EDB has spent less than what was originally approved by the Cabinet of Ministers and half of the cost was met from sponsorships and income from the event. "Therefore, it is baseless to say that I walked out of the meeting saying that 'I am not answerable to the board but only to the President'. As you and most other people are not aware, I am recovering from a major heart attack which occurred soon after the Expo.
Hence, the only reason I left the meeting, after appointing Dr.Yousuf Marikkar as pro-tem Chairman, was due to my delicate health condition and not because I was annoyed or arrogant." He said there is no dispute at all between the board members and himself as reported. The EDB Board consists of 16 members with majority being Secretaries or Additional Secretaries of Ministers. "I have been chairing Board meetings of the EDB for the last two years, but never have there been any queries with regard to irregularities procedures or misappropriation of funds. Only at the last board meeting queries were raised by two members of the Board on the Expo 2012 regarding issues such as the non-functioning of the air conditioning and the seating arrangements for Board Members for the opening ceremony at the Expo 2012," he said.
He said the COPE scheduled to be held on June 8 is a routine one for all state organizations and not summoned specially to inquire into Expo 2012.
He said all transactions of Expo 2012 were done in accordance with strict procurement guidelines, evaluation process followed by the EDB with the approval of the Procurement Committee in which a representative of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is a member.
Business Editor – We stand by our story and, owing to time constraints, will respond next week fully to the chairman’s claims.