ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 18, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 25

Postal Dept. mismanaged but none named

By Chathuri Dissanayake

The final report of the committee appointed to investigate into corruption allegations in the Posts Department has observed that mismanagement had taken place but has not named those responsible. The report which has not been made public has investigated a number of charges levelled against some top officials, including the Postmaster General.

The six member committee headed by Ms.S. Kaluarachchi was appointed by the Posts Minister to look into allegations made by the Union of Postal and Telecommunication Officers (UPTO) which demanded action be taken on them. The UPTO alleged large financial losses took place as a result of misappropriation of funds and haphazard decision making of the management.

However the Postmaster General K. S. Senadheera had attributed the increased loss to the increase in employee salaries. The report has validated a number of claims made by UPTO but has failed to name the officials or employees responsible. Excerpts of the report seen by The Sunday Times refer to a number of wrong decisions made and action taken by the Postal Department. However it also stated that no officer or group of officers had committed fraud or taken part in any corrupt activities.

The department has been accused of mismanagement in transactions carried out with other departments and ministries. The report has specifically stated that there were a number of accounts with millions of rupees in deposit which have not been reported to the Treasury.

UPTO secretary W. M. Piyasena said the recommendations of the report are being implemented and relevant officers have been called to explain the actions they have taken.“No officer has committed fraud but simply has not followed proper procedures. This is mainly due to the fact that the department is highly understaffed and one person carries out several duties. In such a situation when things need to be done in a short period of time lapses occur,” he said.

According to the committee report it had found fault with the agreement to give discounted rates to Toppan Form (Pvt) Ltd, a private data processing company which handles business mail of a number of commercial organizations. The agreement had given the company permission to post business mail at a discounted rate.

According to the committee the discount given had caused a loss of Rs. 26 million to the department over five years. However the UPTO claims the loss could be much higher as the mail volumes were larger than what the company actually paid postage for. This was due to the fact that no proper mail counting procedure was available when Toppan Form dispatched business letters in bulk. The UPTO claims no action was taken when it was proved the actual number of letters exceeded the number recorded in documents on several occasions when random batches of letters were counted.

The committee has reported that proper approval of the Cabinet and Treasury had not been sought for the agreement and that the Postmaster General cannot make decisions on such deals without consulting the Treasury. Further a proper feasibility study had not been carried out on the transaction and cost benefit analysis or revenue audit carried out by the department even after three years of introduction of the service.

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