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NFC launched Rs 100 mn project in honour of Lester James Peries without approval

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Waste, corruption and irregularities galore

It was revealed during the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) proceedings on Monday (19) that the National Film Corporation (NFC) hadn’t even bothered to obtain approval for the construction of a museum and a film school named after the late Lester James Peries. Construction work commenced on April 5, 2019.

The COPE has instructed the NFC Chairman Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa to complete the Rs 100 mn project following the due process.

The following is the text of the statement issued by Parliament after examination of the Auditor General’s Reports and the Current Performance Reports for the Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 of the Sri Lanka National Film Corporation:

The Chairman of the COPE Prof. Charitha Herath said that many issues have transpired due to the lack of standards in the process of digitizing cinemas.

Accordingly, The COPE Chair pointed out that a new perspective on the part of the Sri Lanka National Film Corporation with regards to the digitization of cinemas is required. He stated the above at the COPE Committee meeting held on the 19th of July 2021.

The COPE Meeting was held to examine the Auditor General’s Reports and the Current Performance Reports for the Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 of the Sri Lanka National Film Corporation.

The COPE also disclosed that the outstanding film production loan balance which was given by the National Film Corporation and Fund as at 31 December 2020 is Rs. 141,292,087.

The Committee also directed the Corporation to take immediate action in order to recover the outstanding loan amount of Rs. 7,780,983 given to 146 cinemas which were closed before 2001.

Recommendations were made at the COPE meeting held on 24th March 2016 to formulate a programme for the modernization of cinema halls and to report on the progress. The COPE inquired the National Film Corporation regarding the non-implementation of the decisions taken.

By the end of 2019, the Corporation maintained 09 current bank accounts and the Committee disclosed that its average monthly balance was Rs. 29.2 million. The COPE chair pointed out that the lack of proper financial management governing the institution was a serious concern.

The COPE paid special attention regarding the failure to complete the construction of a museum and a film school named after Dr. Lester James Peries which commenced on April 05th, 2019 at an estimated cost of Rs. 99.9 million on time.

The approval of the Urban Development Authority had not been obtained for the construction. The Committee instructed the Chairman of the National Film Corporation, Dr. Jayantha Dharmadasa to complete the project following the due process.

The Committee further directed the Chairman of the National Film Corporation to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of a Film School.

It was also revealed that two officers who had not been confirmed in a permanent position at the Department of Cultural Affairs in 2019 and another officer had been appointed to fill the three vacancies existing in the National Film Corporation as acting officers and to perform duties with their salaries and allowances amounting to a total of Rs. 3,098,046.

The Committee paid special attention towards the non-recovery of the movie rental of Rs. 12,343,433 from the Maradana Cine City Cinema Hall from 2003 to 31st May 2016 as at March 2021.

Although Rs. 25 million has been allocated for the improvement of the production facilities of the University Studio in Kelaniya and Rs. 50 million has been allocated for the establishment of a film archive and restoration of films, the amount had not been utilized during the year under review. The Committee also paid special attention to the fact that out of the Rs. 50 million allocated for the establishment of a National Training School, only Rs. 500,000 was spent.

The Committee also inquired from the Corporation regarding the non-compliance with the Procurement Guidelines pertaining to the expenditure of Rs. 44,394,717 for the Presidential Film Awards which was held on 31st March 2017.

COPE Chairman Prof. Herath instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Prof. Kapila Gunawardena to inquire into the matter and submit a report to the Committee.

The Committee also paid special attention to the fact that an action plan for the year 2020 has not been prepared in line with the 2020-2025 Combined Plan.

It was also pointed out that the annual reports of the National Film Corporation since 2015 have not been tabled in Parliament. The Committee directed the Secretary to the Ministry to take immediate action in that regard.

The Committee made note that there are 57 vacancies in the National Film Corporation at present and that the Corporation had not acted upon getting the amendments to the recruitment procedure approved by the Management Services Department.

The Committee making a recommendation to the Secretary to the Ministry stated that several high-ranking officials of the Corporation had been suspended and that investigations regarding such suspensions should be completed expeditiously. The Committee was of the view that the delay of some disciplinary inquiries by one and a half years was an issue of concern.

Prof. Kapila Gunawardena stated that at present the distribution of films was done by the private sector and that a gazette notification would be issued in the future to take it over to the government.

Minister (Dr.) Sarath Weerasekera addressing the committee pointed out the need to electronically distribute tickets in cinemas.

Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, State Ministers Susil Premajayantha and Indika Anuruddha, Members of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, Eran Wickramaratne, Harsha de Silva, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Jagath Pushpakumara, Jayantha Samaraweera, Premnath C. Dolawaththa, Shanakiyan Rasamanickam and Uddika Premarathna were present at the meeting.



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Shocking 17,500 video clips of Lankan children being sexually abused

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By Norman Palihawadane

There were over 17,500 video clips of Sri Lankan children being sexually abused, on the Internet and action had been taken to arrest those responsible, Police Spokesman Senior DIG Ajith Rohana said yesterday. The Sri Lanka Police had sought the assistance of international law enforcement agencies and the Internet service providers to track down the persons involved in uploading those video clips and child sex trafficking via internet, the SDIG said.

Crimes against children in Sri Lanka were rising at an alarming speed, the SDIG said.

The police would conduct a special awareness programme together with the National Child Protection Authority to curb the alarming trend, he said.

The first programme was held recently in Nuwara Eliya where it especially focused apprising police officers attached to that Division.

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Private buses to insist that inter-provincial commuters carry proof of vaccination?

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A limited number of Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and National Transport Commission (NTC) buses and trains would maintain limited inter- provincial operation from 01 August, State Minister of Transport, Dilum Amunugma said.

The State Minister said that certified documents issued by the respective depot superintendents and the letters of approval by the NTC were mandatory, he added.

“The buses and trains will be permitted to operate only in the morning and in the evening for office workers,” Amunugma said.

The State Minister added that passengers should behave responsibly when using the inter-provincial transport services and understand that those services were only for commuters engaged in essential services.

“The Delta variant is spreading rapidly. If one infected passenger travels in a bus, all other commuters will contract it” he warned.

The Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) has decided to make proof of vaccination compulsory for inter provincial travel from 01 August

LPBOA President Gemunu Wijeratne said they had written to the President and Transport Minister asking for permission to enforce it.

Wijeratne said that all bus operators in the Western Province should ensure they were inoculated by August 15.

 

 

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TNA Leader complains against appointing Sinhala officers to Tamil areas

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By Dinasena Ratugamage

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader, R. Sampanthan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, objecting to the appointment of Sinhala government officers to the Northern Province, former TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah told journalists on Wednesday (28.)

The President and the Prime Minister are appointing officials violating democratic principles, Senathirajah said after a meeting of party activists at Karachchi Divisional Secretariat Office, Kilinochchi.

“A lot of Sinhalese are appointed to the North and the East. They must appoint Tamils. These appointments undermine our struggle for a just language policy,” he said.

Senathirajah said that it was customary to appoint Tamil officers to Tamil majority areas. However, this tradition was being violated increasingly in recent times, the former MP said.

“The TNA has nothing against Sinhala government officers. However, appointing Sinhala state officers to majority Tamil areas is a great injustice to the people. So, our leader has written to the President and the Prime Minister asking them to stop this practice,” he said.

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