UNF politico shields postal officer who defaulted

by Neminda Samarajeewa
An officer of the Akmeemana post office who couldnít immediately account for Rs. 190,000 when a team of auditors accompanied by a senior postal official made a surprise inspection, has been spared interdiction thanks to a top UNF politician in the Galle district.

The Galle Divisional Postal Superintendent, W. Wickramapala has complained to the police that he is under threat following this detection.

Despite the incident being brought to the notice of senior postal officials in Colombo, no action has been initiated against this officer at Akmeemana as a powerful government politician has given a directive that the affair be swept under the carpet, reports said.

On September 23, 2003, Wickramapala had accompanied a team of auditors to check the cash register at the Akmeemana post office. As they found Rs. 190,000 missing, they had questioned the officer who had admitted there was a shortfall. He had promised to have the cash ready the following day. But when Wickramapala had gone there the next morning, the officer had gone back on his word and assured that the money will be sent in the postal van, according to the police complaint.

As the postal superintendent had not agreed to this arrangement, the officer had threatened him and had, however later handed over the cash. He had subsequently gone to Wickramapalaís residence and further threatened him of dire consequences if he is interdicted, the police complaint stated.

Postal sources claimed that when the higher authorities in Colombo were informed of the incident, they were told that a powerful politician had ordered that no disciplinary action be taken against this officer as he had returned the money the following day.

This officer, it is alleged, was also involved in a similar incident while serving at the Wanduramba post office, where Rs. 2000 was found missing. It was the money paid by a customer as his electricity charges and the fraud came to light when the unsuspecting manís power supply was disconnected for non-payment of bills. The receipt issued to the customer was found to be forged, the sources said.

Postal workers in Galle have now prepared a petition to Minister Imthiaz Bakeer Markar calling for a prompt inquiry into this ugly incident.