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COPE uncovers Rs.50 mn scam at PGIS of Peradeniya University



Peradeniya University officials at the COPE inquiry (pic courtesy Parliament)

It was revealed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that a former senior official of the Postgraduate Institute of Science (PGIS) affiliated to the University of Peradeniya had fraudulently obtained Rs. 50 million from fixed deposits maintained by the PGIS of the university, according to a statement issued by the Communication Department of Parliament

The Post Graduate Institute affiliated to the University of Peradeniya had closed 14 of its fixed deposits at the Peradeniya Branch of the People’s Bank, between January 01, 2009 and December 31, 2016 and obtained a sum of Rs. 93 million.

Out of that amount, only Rs. 37 million (Rs. 37,948,865) has been invested in new fixed deposits and Rs. 50 million (Rs. 50,338,160) had been fraudulently obtained personally by the Senior Assistant Bursar of the PGIS of the University.

The officer involved in the financial fraud has been interdicted and is being investigated by the CID. It was further revealed at the COPE meeting that the Council of the University of Peradeniya is conducting a disciplinary inquiry into the fraudster and in addition the Auditor General’s Department is imposing surcharges.

The COPE met under the chairmanship of Prof. Charitha Herath to review the Auditor General’s report for the years 2018 and 2019 and the current performance of the Postgraduate Institute affiliated to the University of Peradeniya.

The Committee also focused on the payment of an allowance of 10% made to the Librarian of the Faculty of Science, in addition to the relevant monthly salary for his work in the Postgraduate Institute, without the relevant approval.

The COPE inquired as to why the report had not been submitted by the PGIS even though a sum of Rs.6,386,200 had been paid to the PGIS for the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment report (EIA) on the construction of the proposed Badulla-Kandy expressway.

The Committee also noted that the Research and Scholarship Fund, which was established by the Postgraduate Institute of Science to provide research and scholarship facilities, had not spent any money during the year 2019 and had a balance of Rs. 8,038,458 by the end of the year. The Director – PGIS stated that 12 scholarships had been awarded to suitable scholarship recipients.

The COPE recommended that a separate Internal Auditor be appointed for the audit of those postgraduate institutions rather than relying on the internal audit department of the university.

In addition, the Committee instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Education Prof. Kapila Perera to appoint a subcommittee on the administrative affairs of all nine postgraduate institutions throughout the country and submit a report within six months. The Committee also instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Education to appoint a subcommittee on the administrative affairs of those postgraduate institutions in the country and submit a report within six months.

State Ministers Susil Premajayantha and Indika Anuruddha, MPs Patali Champika Ranawaka, Eran Wickramaratne, Premnath C. Dolawatta and Secretary to the Ministry of Education, Prof. Kapila Perera, Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Prof. Sampath Amaratunga, Vice Chancellor of the University of Peradeniya Prof. Upul Dissanayake and many other officials participated in the meeting.

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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign



… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds



Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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