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“Change cricket voting system” recommends SLC corruption investigators

7 November 2015 04:19 am - 3     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Board of Inquiry on allegations of corruption in Sri Lanka Cricket has strongly felt that the current voting system for SLC as the basic problem in SLC’s administration, especially as stake holders from outstation areas have the power to decide how the future of the game.

They had also felt that SLC stakeholders would never agree to change the system as voting members would never want to forego the powers they have, and had called the Cabinet of Ministers to enforce a different system to the cricket electoral process, likely overpowering the democratic process that is in place at SLC.

The committee has also recommended all the employees on contract basis to be absorbed into permanent cadre while denouncing employees holding office or having close contacts with stakeholders.

The committee also felt that SLC does not have the wherewithal to manage stadiums around the country and has recommended to hand them over to other private sector firms.

These observations were among the nine recommendations the three-member committee had made to the Sports Minister.

The committee appointed on May 27, comprised of three lawyers headed by Ravi Algama and included Jaliya Bodinagoda and Waruna Mallawarachchi.
The report which cost the Sports Ministry a staggering Rs. 3.7 million was handed over to minister Jayasekera on September 28.  

Following are the main recommendations made by the committee in their report.

1. We have noted that the basic problem in the administration of SLC, is its composition, where stakeholders from the far flung outposts of Sri Lanka decide what the future of the game should be. It has been intimated to us that certain individuals control dozens of votes and that they are the favourites of the elected office bearers. It is our opinion that 147 votes among 86 stakeholders is unwieldy considering the volume and geographical magnitude of cricket in Sri Lanka.
Since a change to the Constitution of SLC can only be made by the existing stakeholders and it seems unlikely that voting members would support a move to forego that privilege, a change in the legal structure of SLC would seem a reality only by Cabinet intervention where an immediate and a drastic change can be effected to SLC.

We would suggest that, in deciding what structural changes ought to be effected that the Minister concerned and his senior staff familiarize themselves after a careful study of other international cricket bodies of ICC Members and realities in our own context.

2. Almost connected with 1 above is that a regular evaluation and/or assessment of Stakeholders has been neglected over the past years. We therefore recommend that SLC formulate an effective appraisal system to check if these bodies continue to be aligned with the SLC objectives and/or fulfil the other criteria of SLC.

3. We have seen an unhealthy practice where the vast majority of SLC staff are on contract, but renewed routinely year after year for many years. On the one hand, this gives a sense of uneasiness and instability to staff nearing the completion of the contract, and on the other hand, SLC may not be able to resist the inevitable conclusion before a Court of Law that these are regular employees who have been on contracts as an unfair labour practice. However, even worse, this practice brings to the surface an unusual kind of loyalty and subservience by such staff to the elected officials who are seen as those capable of keeping them in employment. It is recommended that a realistic approach be made in terms of providing permanent employment as appropriate to contractual employees.

4. Our investigation revealed that around a dozen SLC employees also hold key positions or are very closely connected with a stakeholder. We do not see this as a healthy practice as it would be difficult to resist the temptation of loyalty to the stakeholder and could give rise to a conflict of interest.

5. From the submissions made to us at this investigation, we are inclined to the view that SLC is neither geared nor has the wherewithal to operate stadia. Many of the problems and irregularities that our attention has been drawn to have arisen as a result of having to operate stadia around the country.
We would recommend that the controlling body take a fresh look at whether SLC wishes to continue operating the stadia or hand their management to the private sector on pre agreed terms and conditions.

We also note that SLC has already expended Rupees One Billion Two Hundred Million (Rs. 1.2 billion) and owes a further sum of Rupees Two Billion Two Hundred Million (Rs. 2.2 Billion) in respect of the construction of the cricket stadium at Suriyawewa. Though it was sought to justify the venue on the basis of an urgent requirement of an additional match venue-due to change in World Cup plans; we are not satisfied that a proper evaluation was made as to whether Suriyawewa was the right location for such an additional ground. The subsequent schedule of matches played there does not justify the colossal expenditure spent on this venture. From the SLC Accounts we have learnt that there is a sum of Rupees Two Billion Two Hundred Million (Rs 2 2 Billion) owed by SLC to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority on construction effected as an extension to the contract for the construction of the Hambantota Port. The point has, of course, been laboured before us that SLC owns the Suriyawewa Stadia unlike the other stadia which are leased, and therefore it is an asset of SLC.

6. SLC obtained the services of Mr Haroon Lorgat, former CEO of ICC, prior to November 2012 to study the environment within SLC and make recommendations to SLC to improve its performance. He held discussions with many cricketing personalities, both players at the time and ex-players as well as media personalities and SLC Officials and presented a confidential report to the SLC Board dated 20 November 2012.

It is seen that a sum of Rs. 15 million was incurred by SLC on this exercise, in addition to the costs of hotel accommodation of Mr Lorgat, but it is a matter for regret that the Report obtained at such expense is gathering dust on a shelf at SLC and no serious attempts seem to have been made to implement any of the recommendations, which includes structural change, improvement of finances, changes to the domestic cricket structure and addressing lack of professionalism at SLC.

We do not propose to make a detailed analysis of the Lorgat Report or a specific recommendation except to state that it should have been considered critically and constructively and if any or all of the recommendations were ignored or disregarded, proper reasons should be adduced for same.

7. Another glaring example of manipulation and abuse of power is in the appointment of a Cricket Co-ordinator for Ministry of Sports as decided by the ExCo on 28 September 2013 after a meeting with Mr Mahindananda Aluthgamage, the Hon. Minister of Sports. It was decided by the ExCo to appoint the Sports Ministry official Mr Ovinda Sikurajapathy on a payment of Rs. 75,000/- by SLC made up of a monthly allowance of Rs. 50,000/- and an additional Rs.. 25,000/- per month to cover his cost of travelling for a period of 2 years commencing from 1 November 2013.

The rationale for obtaining his services and the payment is given in an extract of the ExCo Minutes dated 28 September 2013 provided to us by a journalist, inter alia as “obtain expeditions (sic) approvals for the various National Teams from the Hon. MInister of Sports and avoid undue delays”. We see this, at best, as a means of using SLC funds to pay an allowance to a Ministry Official in addition to emoluments received from the Republic and at worst, a monetary inducement to a Ministry Official to perform his usual duties. However, the official minutes as provided to us at our request, do not contain the information appearing in the aforesaid extract. The discrepancy in the two versions of minutes seems, to say the least, very strange

However, this matter has been raised by the Auditor General by Query Number LS/A/SLC/2014/AQ/13 dated 12 April 2015 to which CEO of SLC has responded by letter dated 5 May 2015 seeking to justify this unusual exercise. He states that SLC was not aware of a salary being paid to him by the Ministry and states what he was paid by SLC was not a salary but “an out of the pocket retainer and transport for the services ho was supposed to render on a monthly basis.”

We strongly condemn this brazen politicization of SLC by such devious and unnecessary exercises and recommend that SLC desist from such practices in the future.

8. We further wish to highlight other questionable financial practices and inefficiencies such as

(a) Compensation paid to Mr Geoffrey Marsh as aforesaid;
(b) Payment of bonus contrary to Section 8.3.3 of the Public Enterprise Circular
(c) Payment outside budgetary control

all of which have been raised by the Auditor General vide Draft Report and covering letter dated 13.11.2014 Ref. No. LS/A/SLC/FA/2013 on SLC Financial Transaction for the year ended 2013 which is self-explanatory.

We recommend that SLC adheres to the guidelines set by the Auditor General from time to time except any deviations that can be justified in terms of financial compliance.

9. SLC entered into an Agreement with Somerset Entertainment Ventures (Singapore) Pte Ltd on 13 July 2010 with regard to marketing and sponsorship rights in respect of events of SLC mentioned in the said Agreement, from 2010 to 2015. There had been four other bids over which Somerset was selected. An M.O.U. was signed previously on 21st May 2010. It is seen that the said company had been incorporated only on April 2010, the offer made on 3rd May 2010 and accepted on 7th May 2010, bringing us to the inescapable conclusion that the company was formed for this very purpose.

In fact, Mr Charith Senariayake, then Head of Marketing in an email sent to Head of Finance dated 5th May 2010 annexed an evaluation of all bids and stated “However it appears that none of the above companies other than Krimson understands scope of sponsorship, hence, in the event we consider the highest bid i.e. Somerset, we may have to impose strict rules and regulations on payment terms including bank guarantees etc. We also recommend that Somerset is invited for a discussion to establish their credibility and they fully understand the scope of sponsorship.”

It is obvious that Somerset was not able to deliver on the obligations taken as per the said Agreement resulting in SLC by letter of demand dated 01.9.2014 claiming a sum of Rupees Five Hundred and Sixty Million (Rs. 560,000,000/-) from Somerset.

We would recommend that SLC desist from such unprofessional and haphazard engaging of sponsors as is evident from the Somerset experience.
In addition to the these main recommendations, the committee has made several other recommendations and observations.

Most interesting among them is about player payments.

“We would recommend that a system of keeping the player payments pegged to a percentage of the SLC revenue be pursued subject to sponsorship periods coinciding with the player contracts” stated the report.

The committee also called for a dialogue between players and officials to resolve their issues.

“We recommend that if there is still lack of trust and friendship between (any) Players and the Board, it would be best to iron out these differences through dialogue to create a better relationship and an understanding for the sake of Sn Lanka Cricket” stated the report.

Among the other comments is one to reinstate two former employees namely Mr Anslem Kaluarachchi and Mrs Yamuna Lakmali Pitigala.

“Mr Anslem Kaluarachchi and Mrs Yamuna Lakmali Pitigala have addressed us as to the inadequacy of grounds as perceived by them for the discontinuance of their services. Both these employees are bitter about the circumstances relating to the cessation of their employment. We however not made any investigation relating to the circumstances of the termination of their employment in view of the fact that alternate remedies were available to them to have canvassed the legality of their termination.

We were requested to reinstate them in employment which was of course outside our purview. We leave it to the Interim Committee or the succeeding Executive Committee to consider these requests, as appropriate” said the report.(Channaka de Silva)

 

  Comments - 3

  • Acro Saturday, 07 November 2015 03:20 PM

    How can lawyers decide the future of cricket.

    Karu Saturday, 07 November 2015 10:03 AM

    Cricket is a useless sport.

    Sirimewan Saturday, 07 November 2015 10:53 AM

    The ministers got there by the same system. Why should they change it.


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