The Committee on Public Accounts (CoPA) disclosed at the Committee meeting held three days ago (22) that complaints against the currently suspended Omani embassy officer were made since February this year, but a decision on the matter has been delayed.
Additional Auditor General. P. L. K Perera pointed out that on 28.02.2022, the former chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau has requested an investigation through the Internal Audit Division regarding this particular officer. The Additional Auditor General further pointed out that financial fraud, certificate fraud, etc. had been reported regarding this official.
Thus, it was disclosed that the former chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau, Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe, had requested the Ministry in February to make arrangements for him to be recalled to the island immediately, as probes could be hindered should the person remain in the post.
The committee expressed its strong displeasure for not taking action until the incident received a lot of publicity through the media.
The Director General of the Foreign Employment Bureau said that on 28.02.2022, according to the request of the former chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau, an investigation on this official was conducted through the Internal Audit Division, but the allegations could not be confirmed.
The Director General added that after calling for a report from the Ambassador of Oman and based on the investigation report received from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on November 4, 2022, the Bureau too acted on suspending the said officer.
The Committee expressed its displeasure over the lack of prompt action regarding this officer and questioned on the matter at length. The secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment said that even though he came to this Ministry after the month of May this year, he will accept the responsibility. The committee pointed out that even if the secretary changes, the officials should take responsibility for this.
The absence of trained workers to meet the demand for foreign jobs in many fields including nurses was also taken into discussion at length. CoPA also pointed out that the responsibility of the Foreign Employment Bureau is not to send unskilled workers abroad, but to work with all other relevant ministries and institutions in a joint approach to send skilled workers abroad to meet the demand for foreign jobs.
Thus, the committee chairman instructed the secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment to prepare a mechanism within two months to send trained workers to meet the demand of foreign jobs in good coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Administration, Ministry of Education and other related institutions.
Furthermore, a CoPA sub-committee will be appointed in this regard, disclosed CoPA Chief MP Kabir Hashim.
CoPA subcommittee chair MP (Dr.) Sudarshini Fernandopulle, MPs J.C. Alawathuwala, Ashok Abeysinghe, (Dr.) Major Pradeep Undugoda, Wasantha Yapabandara, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, Ananda Wimalaweera Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment, Aruni Wijewardena, Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Priyantha Mayadunna, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, Nihal Ranasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Education and other officials were present at the occasion.