The Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) this week discussed the possibility of appointing professionals with airline industry experience to the new Board of Directors of SriLankan Airlines, a top government official said yesterday.
The CCEM on Wednesday discussed developing a criterion for selection based on industry experience for the Board which would be vacated once the current Board’s offer to resign is formally accepted, a senior Government official who declined to be quoted told Daily FT.
The Committee also discussed the possibility of appointing a few members of the Restructuring Committee to the Board, Daily FT learnt. This follows media reports which surfaced earlier this week that Thilan Wijesinghe, the head of newly set up National Agency for Public Private Partnership and the Convenor for the Officials’ Committee on Sri Lankan Airlines, was tipped to head the new restructuring board for the troubled airline.
However, no decision has been taken in this regard yet, the official said. Additionally, no official communication has been sent to the current Board on the Government’s decision to accept their offer to resign.
“Our offer to resign has still not been accepted, nor has a restructuring board been appointed,” one SriLankan Board Member who wished to remain anonymous told Daily FT.
A letter accepting the offer to resign should be either from the Prime Minister’s Office, to which office five members of the six-member Board wrote offering to resign making way for a restructuring board to be appointed, or by the line Ministry. According to standard practice, the line Ministry Secretary writes to the relevant party informing of the decision. However, the Public Enterprise Development Ministry, under which SriLankan Airlines comes, has taken a back seat on managing the affairs of the airline. Subject Minister Kabir Hashim earlier told Daily FT that he was not aware of the Board’s offer to resign, when the letter was first sent to the Prime Minister’s Office with the minutes of the Board meeting decision.
The uncertainty surrounding the matter has thrown the current SriLankan Board into limbo, one Board member said.
“It is unsettling as we are still technically responsible for everything,” he said.
“We have been expecting the decision to come this week, but nothing so far.”
However, the Board expects the Government to decide on the issue over the weekend following scheduled meetings, with a change expected early next week.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Ajith Dias and five directors offered to resign December last year to support the Government’s restructuring plan. A letter detailing a Board decision by five of the six Board members to offer to resign was submitted to the Prime Minister’s office on 22 December 2017, along with the minutes of the Board Meeting. The offer came two days after the British consultant Nyras Consulting Company, hired by the official Committee to carry out restructuring the airlines, outlined their plan at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is also the head of the Ministerial Committee on SriLankan.