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

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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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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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