Human trafficking racket
It was revealed at the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) that complaints had been made against an officer seconded to the Lankan embassy in Oman by the Foreign Employment Bureau, who has been suspended, since February this year, but no action had been taken against him.
Additional Auditor General. P.L.K. Perera pointed out that on 28 February 2022, that the former chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau had called for an investigation by the Internal Audit Division regarding this officer. The Additional Auditor General pointed out that financial fraud, certificate fraud, etc., had been reported regarding the official concerned.
It was revealed that former chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau, Major General (ret.) Mahinda Hathurusinghe had requested the Ministry in February this year to bring the official back to Sri Lanka immediately, as investigations might be hindered if he remained in that post. The committee expressed its strong displeasure at the fact that no action had been taken until the incident received a great deal of publicity through the media.
The Director General of the Foreign Employment Bureau said the Internal Audit Division of the Foreign Employment Bureau had conducted an investigation against the officer as per the request of the former chairman, but the allegations could not be proved.He however said that after calling for a report from the Ambassador to Oman and based on the investigation report received from the Criminal Investigation Department, the Bureau had suspended the officer.
The absence of trained workers to meet the demand for foreign jobs in many fields including nurses was also taken into discussion at length. The COPA also pointed out that the Foreign Employment Bureau should not send unskilled workers abroad and it had to work all other relevant ministries and institutions to send only skilled workers abroad for employment.
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 for this, COPA Chairman Kabir Hashim stated.
COPA subcommittee Chair (Dr.) Sudarshini Fernandopulle, Members of Parliament J. C. Alawathuwala, Ashok Abeysinghe, (Dr.) Major Pradeep Undugoda, Wasantha Yapabandara, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, Ananda Wimalaweera, Secretary to the Ministry of Labor 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 Committee meeting.