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Rs 11 bn. misappropriated at CCF under Yahapalana Govt., investigation reveals



Rs 400 mn went missing during presidential election

By Upali de Saram

A three-member committee appointed to probe the alleged financial malpractice at the Central Cultural Fund has found that over Rs. 11 billion was misappropriated during the three-year period from 2016 to 2019.

The committee handed over its report to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (28).

The report has revealed an unauthorised removal of Rs. 400 million from the Fund during the presidential election in 2019.

As per the committee report a loss of Rs 2,608 million has resulted from an unauthorised withdrawal of fixed deposits of the CCF and, thereby losing interest.

Another loss of Rs 48 million has been caused due to the encashment of travellers cheques.

It has been found that Rs 2,266 million that should have been handed over to the Archaeological Trust was used for other purposes.

The CCF has suffered another loss of eight million rupees due to the handing over of assets of the Ape Gama Project, says the report, adding that there was an additional loss of Rs 2,316 million due to donations and awards given in violation of financial regulations.

A loss of Rs 3,060 million has been caused by recruitments in excess of the approved cadre.

The sum total of the loss and misappropriation of funds is about Rs 11,059 million, the report said.

The committee was appointed to probe the activities of the Central Cultural Fund during the period from 2016 to 2019. It was appointed by the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Buddha Sasana, Culture and Religious Affairs.

Former High Court Judge Gamini Sarath Edirisinghe chaired the Committee and Gotabhaya Jayaratne and Harigupta Rohanadheera were other members of the committee. It was tasked to probe whether the funds of the Central Cultural Fund had been used legally and whether revenue generation had taken place properly.

The committee conducted investigations to ascertain whether the expenditure of the Fund had been in compliance with the regulations and what the losses are at present.

The Central Cultural Fund has power to receive funds from donor institutions and agencies in Sri Lanka and abroad and utilise them for heritage conservation and management activities.

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Businesses can collapse due to electricity tariff increase next year– Patali



Patali Champika Ranawaka

The Cabinet has approved increase in electricity tariffs in two stages in January and June 2023.

The disclosure was made on Tuesday (29) at a meeting of the Sub Committee on Identifying the Short & Medium-Term Programmes, related to Economic Stabilisation of the National Council.

The government increased power tariffs in August this year.

Parliament announced that although the electricity tariffs had been increased in the recent past, the CEB was still running at a loss.

The representatives of the government and private institutions related to the power sector were called before the Committee to obtain proposals for the purpose of solving the issues in the power sector.

In order to cover the current losses of the CEB, electricity tariffs had to be increased by about 70%, the statement issued by Parliament quoted CEB representatives as having said.

The statement quoted Chairman of the Committee, Patali Champika Ranawaka, as having said that if electricity tariffs were increased to cover CEB’s losses, businesses could collapse as a result.

It was also disclosed that the CEB currently owed nearly 650 billion rupees as outstanding debt to various parties including banks and electricity suppliers. The Electricity Board representative stated that out of the amount to be paid, nearly Rs. 35 billion were to be paid to the organisations that supplied renewable energy, and 75 billion rupees are to be paid to Thermal power suppliers. Thus, it expects to pay at least part of what it owes the suppliers from the 50-billion-rupee loan to be received. (SF)

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PMD claims President’s response misinterpreted



President Ranil Wickremesinghe denied recent media reports stating that the Provincial Councils will be replaced with the District Development Committees.

Issuing a press release his media division said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s response in Parliament on Tuesday has been misinterpreted.

Wickremesinghe’s media Division said that in response to a statement by former President Maithripala Sirisena, the President stated that the District Development Committees (DDCs) would be established within the Provincial Councils.

The DDCs would provide a platform for coordination between thegovernment, the Provincial Councils and the Local Government bodies for all executive decisions, the Media Division said.

“This will ensure the process is not duplicated and will reduce financial wastage. Apart from that, the president has not made any statement about the dissolution of provincial councils.”

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Kumudesh: Top bureaucrat demands service extension from Minister’s daughter to approve shady deal



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A senior official of the Ministry of Health has asked the daughter of a Cabinet Minister to help him obtain a service extension in return for approving a controversial tender for medical supplies, President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) Ravi Kumudesh says.

Kumudesh told The Island yesterday that the Minister’s daughter was working for a company that supplied oxygen generators.

“The official told the Minister’s daughter that he would grant the tender to a company of his choice to ensure a comfortable retirement and if her company wanted to secure the contract he should be given an extension in service.”

Kumudesh said the money for the medical equipment was to be paid through the grants from the Global Fund. The World Bank is a major contributor to the Global Fund.

“Officials can grant these tenders to companies of their choice by changing criteria. They make small technical specifications to ensure that only one company qualifies. These officials are a law unto themselves.”

Health Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

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