It was revealed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that salaries amounting to Rs 583 million have been paid to 3,700 trainees recruited to the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) from 2017- 2019. Minister of Environment, Mahinda Amaraweera said trainees had not even been assigned proper duties.
COPE chaired by Dr. Charitha Herath drew attention to the vacancies and surplus employees at the NHDA. As there are 688 vacancies in the NHDA as at 31 May 2021, Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Herath instructed the Authority to work with the Department of Management Services to fill them as early as possible.
While there are 154 vacancies at the top management level of the company, the Chairman also questioned officers regarding the existence of 46 surplus posts.
He also queried as to how there could be 218 surplus employees when there were 116 vacancies at tertiary level. He then directed the Secretary to the State Ministry of Rural Housing and Construction and Building Material Industries Promotion, to submit a report regarding the situation within a month.
The Committee paid special attention to the failure to table the Annual Reports of the NHDA in Parliament in a proper manner. The Committee also drew attention to the failure to include the Annual Procurement Plan, the Human Resource Development Plan and the Internal Audit Plan that should be included in the Annual Action Plan of the Authority.
Although the NHDA was previously recommended to submit a report on the Janasevana One Million Housing Project to the Committee within a month, the Committee brought up the issue of it not being submitted so far. COPE chairman further said that public property of 1,351 housing projects has not yet been transferred to Local Government Institutions which is a serious problem.
Although an agreement was reached with a private party to construct houses and develop a one acre and 26.5 perch land on Darley Road, Colombo, it was revealed that the land had been sold to the relevant private company in 2016 at the 2006 contracted price of Rs 812 million without any development work being done. The NHDA informed the Committee that legal action would be instituted to re-take the land expeditiously. The Committee brought out the issue of debt collection and found that its progress was at minimum level.
The Committee informed the NHDA that the annual loan repayment rate is at 60% and that a systematic programme should be implemented to recover the debt. The Committee instructed the Secretary to the State Ministry to take appropriate action to resolve administrative issues of the NHDA.
It was revealed that according to the financial statements of 2020, the amount due to the Sevana Media Unit of the Authority was Rs 68 million and COPE Chairman informed the Authority to take immediate action in this regard.
The COPE meeting convened to examine the current performance of the NHDA was attended by Ministers Mahinda Amaraweera, State Ministers Susil Premajayantha, D.V Chanaka and Indika Anuruddha, MPs Eran Wickramaratne, Harsha de Silva, Jagath Pushpakumara, Premanath C. Dolawatta and S. Rasamanikkam.