GMOA crisis: Doctors raise questions over alleged misappropriation of funds

A group of around 30 former Executive Committee members of the GMOA (Government Medical Officers’ Association) last week raised issue over what they claimed "misappropriation of GMOA funds" as the expenditure of the trade union has shot up to Rs. 29.9 million.

Referring to the Treasurer’s report adopted at the GMOA AGM on June 28, they pointed out that revenue for the past year was Rs. 31.7 million, while expenditure stood at Rs. 29.9 million. During the past two to three years, expenditure had zoomed three-fold.

"For whose benefit has the 13-member GMOA Executive Committee spent Rs. 29.9 million?", they queried at a news conference at the OPA auditorium.

At the head-table were Dr. Vajira Senaratne, Consultant Cardiologist and a former GMOA President, Dr. Mrs. Ranjani Gamage, Consultant Neurologist and a former Vice President Dr. Sunil Perera, Consultant Neuro Surgeon and a former Vice President, Dr. Jayantha Balawardane, Consultant Oncologist and a former President and Dr. Upul Gunasekara, a former media spokesman of this trade union.

They were supported by Dr. Sankalpa Marasinghe, Dr. Bimantha Gunasekara, Dr. Pushpitha Ubesiri, Dr. Chandana Atapattu, Dr. S. Sivapriyan and Dr. Milroy, who were also former Exco members.

The group said they are perturbed by the current situation that has developed and drew the attention of the 17,000 members to the grave crisis that has now hit this 88-year-old professional trade union.

The June 2014 election of the GMOA stands annulled and its Executive Committee stripped of power on a judicial directive by the Mt. Lavinia District Judge. The case has been put off until August 6, 2014.

They alleged that the GMOA had, throughout the year, sent around 10,000 SMS (Short Service Messages) on a daily basis and distributed ‘Kela Paththara’ against a section of its own membership. From the time, the Exco assumed office, it has been busy slinging mud at opponents who criticized the actions of the trade union, the group claimed.

The crisis in the GMOA is as a result of Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya trying to include a member from a different union – the Association of Medical Specialists – as a candidate at its June 28 election, in violation of the GMOA Constitution, they explained.

In every annual election of this trade union, the voter turnout is only 20%, of which Padeniya polls the majority. Among the voters are very junior members, who vote under duress because of the vulnerability of their appointments as juniors, they asserted.

The group said that 80% of the senior membership do not vote at any election and this has led to a crisis situation. "We appeal to all senior members to treat this as a ‘wake-up call’ and come forward to save the GMOA from its present calamity".

"We also call upon the membership to examine the financial report of the 2014 AGM and take appropriate steps to stop misappropriation of funds, which are, after all money collected from the members themselves", the group noted.

They said the GMOA collected more than Rs. 5 million from the membership by issuing car passes for doctors, which was irregular. In addition, a substantial amount of money is also being collected now from the membership under the guise of "trade union activities", which is highly irregular, the group claimed.

"We ask our members to be more vigilant of these irregularities and not be misled by those who attempt to paint a rosy picture", they said.

Asked about the allegations made, former GMOA President, Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya said he is barred from commenting as the court case is pending. "It could be sub judice", he said.

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