Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What is all the kafuffle about the Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines?

The other day the house of the Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines was broken into, whilst he was away on vacation in Nuwera Eliya, and the house was closed up. Apparently according to the statement he had given the police, a duffle bag with Rs4M in foreign currency notes was taken along with a Rolex which he had received as a gift and valued at Rs4.5M.

There is a huge hue and cry about him having all this money and if it was legal or not as one is only allowed to have up to $2,000 equivalent in foreign currency at any time and any more if found would incur a fine of three times the amount in addition to the forfeiture of the money. I would like to know how many times this law has prosecuted and fined 300% of the loot!!

I for one who would love to have even $2,000 with me as a protection against the drop in the value of the rupee, and do not mind if people hold onto some foreign currency as we get $6B sent every year from people who work overseas and bring it back or remit it through the banking or other system. Many of the workers not trusting the system bring cash and change them as and when they need the money, as the banking system seems to them to give them a rotten rate or charge them exorbitant fees.

In any case the sum in question is not an extraordinary amount for the Chairman who spends a lot on travel and entertainment. I understand that the Chairman is entitled to FREE first class travel in any airline he flies in, which is a great perk in itself, and I am sure if his office worked efficiently, would be able to get free hotel nights at all the hotels he stays in as well, saving the airline and the country a huge amount of money. I dare say the latter does not happen as he does not appear to be an industrious person saving the country money, being a political appointee, the brother of the first lady, Madam Shiranthie.

As for the priceless Rolex, it is nice to have friends who give these things and I hope not for favors granted. He was I understand a tea planter in his past life and so this must be quite a change for him. I only hope he is able to put the President on a leash and not abuse the privilege of using the planes for his trips, as they seem to cost about Rs1B a year. This is a sum the country cannot afford bearing in mind the loss of about Rs10B a year. So if you want to be patriotic ban the President from flying SLA planes!!

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