Oct 20, 2017

Corruption, waste of billions of rupees in 15 public sector institutions – COPE

The fourth report of the Committee on Public Enterprises presented to Parliament, yesterday, reveals instances of corruption, losses, frauds and misappropriation of funds running into billions of rupees by 15 public sector institutions during the recent past.

Presenting the report, chairman of the COPE, JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti said the ministers and their secretaries as chief accounting officers should take follow up action to remedy the situations. "There is no point in presenting these reports if the chief accounting officers do not take the matters revealed in these reports seriously and act accordingly," he said.

The report contains problems identified in state enterprises summoned before the COPE during the period from Sept 1, 2016 to Feb 28, 2017.

All the investigations included in the report were based on evidence from audit queries conducted by the Auditor General’s Department, MP Handunnetti said.

He emphasised that it was the duty of those who had the power now to take action against those who had caused losses and politicians responsible.

The report states that Rs. 1,705,343 had been spent by the National Transport Commission to print stickers of destination boards and details of emergency telephone numbers on three occasions in 2015 and the funds had been spent without proper procedures being followed.  The NTC has spent Rs 37 million on renovating a building used to regulate provincial buses using GPS technology which cost Rs 79 million, but the system is not functioning.  The NTC has spent Rs 8,009,310 on a festival and Rs 1,891,000 for a TV documentary without approval. In 2013 the NTC had fixed seven electronic boards at a cost of Rs 62 million in Bastian Mawatha- Colombo, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Nuwara Eliya, Kataragama, Ranna, and Puttalam to display the inter provincial and provincial running time tables but currently those boards do not function. A vehicle had been purchased for a former chairman of the NTC at a cost of Rs 9.2 million in excess of the approved amount of Rs. 8 million. The NTC has spent Rs. 2,669,500 and Rs. 1,327,500 to distribute school bags on two occasions in 2014 without proper approval.

Tourism Development Authority has paid Rs. 7,382,305 as a part of the interest of a loan of Rs. 100 million issued to a private hotel by the Bank of Ceylon in 2014, the report reveals. The COPE has found that Rs. 11,089,228 out of Rs 29,195,802 allocated for renovating 30 rooms of a holiday bungalow belonging to the Authority was used though no work was done. Rs 10,196,000 has been paid to a supplier without approval. Rs 3,226,950 has been paid to suppliers with regulations being followed. The Kalpitiya integrated tourism project commenced in 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs 5521 million to construct holiday resorts with 4,000 rooms and infrastructure facilities. Its work was to be completed in five years, but not a single room has been constructed thought Rs 88,797,590 had been spent as at Dec 31, 2014.

The Mattala International Airport ran at a loss of Rs. 2,105,298,382 in 2013, Rs. 2,729,201,680 in 2014, Rs. 3,099,230,580 in 2015 and Rs. 1,546,931,328 in 2016.

The CWE has incurred a loss of Rs. 39 million in 2014 by purchasing 14,000 carom boards and 11,000 draught boards. The CWE has received only Rs. 257,667,217 of Rs. 870,963,097 given to the Lanka Sathosa.

Rs. 260 million given as loans by the People’s Bank to a customer was written off in 2011, the COPE report says, adding that the amount was 51 percent of loans written off by the bank in that year as non-performing ones.

Sri Lanka Ayurveda Drugs Corporation spent seven million rupees as initial step to introduce ten new products to the market during a ceremony by the name of Isiwara Osu launch in 2015. Out of the expenditure borne on this event, 71 percent was on publicity. Out of the ten products only one was new.

The COPE has inquired form the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation about the current status of the investigations conducted on the Hedging deal and found that the loss caused by the deal was at Rs. 10.2 billion as at Jan. 2016 had increased to Rs. 14.06 billion as at Dec. 31, 2016, says the report.

(By Saman Indrajith - island.lk)

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