The lavish Rs.10.4 million training tour to Austria for eleven senior CEB officials that caused so much controversy for misusing state funds was justified by the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy, who explained that it was not public funds that were spent on the programme.
Ministry Secretary, Dr. Suren Batagoda, who vehemently denied that the six-day training tour to Vienna, Austria to be held from November 9 to 13, was a case of misusing State funds, said that the CEB was a commercial organization and no public funds would be wasted in the exercise.
The Daily Mirror last week exposed the story of how ten senior Engineers and an accountant of the CEB were planning to go on an expensive training programme on Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to be held in Vienna, Austria despite a recent government circular to minimize the use of state funds.
Although there were enough and more facilities to hold this programme in Colombo for a sum of USD 100 per trainee, the necessity to undertake such an expensive foreign visit, even though it was a training tour, had raised many eyebrows.
When asked about the necessity to have an expensive foreign training when ample local facilities were available here Dr. Batagoda was of the view that their officials should be given the opportunity to explore the world and learn new things instead of remaining here like 'frogs stuck in a well'.
The Secretary, who also justified the fact that three senior officials included in the list were set to retire from the beginning of 2016, said it was the practice of the CEB to arrange such trips for officials after taking into account their long service to the board.
The course fee alone would cost the CEB a minimum of Rs.10.4 million while the expenditure on air tickets and a personal allowance of USD 2, 500 would also add to the expenses, it was revealed. (Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana)