Sunday Leader newspaper faces severe financial crunch

Sri Lanka’s once popular Sunday Leader newspaper which gained popularity under slain Editor Lasantha Wickremetunga is now facing a severe financial crisis, the MENAFN news agency reported.

Sources attached to the newspaper alleged that the paper was facing a financial crisis as a result of mismanagement by officials appointed by former Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

Sources said that the newspaper did not go to print on August 6 as funds were not allocated to purchase newsprint to print the paper.

However, following a last minute attempts, funds were received to publish the newspaper on August 13.

The staff had consistently raised their concerns with the management over the failure to properly administer the operations of the publication at times resulting even in heated exchanges, sources said.

It is also understood that Lankaputhra Bank chairman Ruwan Gallage, who had been appointed by Karunanayake to manage the operations of the newspaper, had told staff they can leave if they are not willing to work under the current conditions.

The staff had however hit back by refusing to leave and said they were prepared to be fired if required with compensation.

Many attached to the newspaper alleged that the paper has been facing a severe financial crisis since it was taken over by Karunanayake in 2015 who had at the time promised to resurrect the operations with Mandana Ismail as the Editor.

Mandana Ismail resigned last year following a tiff with Karunanayake over the financial crisis the newspaper was facing.

Businessman Arjun Aloysius, who faces accusations in the Central Bank treasury bond scam, had given advertisements to the newspaper to assist the operations on a request from Karunanayake.

However he pulled out last year and the newspaper was forced to depend mostly on its own income since then.

It is learnt that last week some sections of the staff had refused to work until they are paid. Sources said that while most employees had been paid for June some are yet to be paid while no one has been paid for July as yet.

The staff, have also not been paid their EPF and ETF, depriving them of the monthly interest.