The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has made 5 key recommendations, including appointing a committee headed by a retired judge to probe irregularities in the Central Cultural Fund.
According to the Parliament of Sri Lanka, the COPE committee convened under the chairmanship of MP(Prof.) Ranjith Bandara on Tuesday (07) to investigate the matters raised by the special audit report on the functioning of the Central Cultural Fund and to examine the progress of the implementation of recommendations given by the COPE committee.
The Internal Inquiry Committee appointed by the Secretary to the Ministry to investigate the matters raised in the said Special Audit Report for the purpose of reporting to COPE was discussed at length.
Furthermore, in the last meeting, there was a discussion at length about holding the meetings of the governing council of the Central Cultural Fund and whether the funds have been properly spent, and the committee members had agreed to discuss the validity of the 209th meeting of the governing council in this meeting.
Accordingly, the Auditor General pointed out that only 07 of the 11 members have agreed to the decisions of the 209th meeting and 04 including the former Prime Minister have not signed. Stating that there is a discrepancy between the signatures used by the 07 signatories on the signature list of this meeting and the signatures used by them in the previous governing board meetings, the Auditor General pointed out that the decisions of the 209th governing board meeting have not been adopted in the 210th meeting.
The Auditor General also stated that the then Prime Minister’s Secretary and the current President’s Secretary, who were members of the relevant governing body, confirmed that he was not a party to such a meeting.
Accordingly, followed by extensive discussion, the COPE Chair gave the following recommendations to the Secretary of the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs.
- Appointment of a committee headed by a retired judge to investigate the issues raised by the special audit report of the Central Cultural Fund for the period 2015 – 2019.
- Dissolution of the singular internal investigation committee for the purpose of reporting to COPE appointed by the Secretary to the Ministry to investigate the matters raised in the said Special Audit Report.
- To check the validity of the signature list of the 209th meeting, and to refer the list to the Criminal Investigation Department and the Government Inspector.
- Recall the Central Cultural Fund before the Committee to review the progress of the recommendations made by COPE on the matters raised by the Special Audit Report on the functioning of the Fund.
- To make the report of the new committee proposed which is to be appointed to investigate the functioning of the Central Cultural Fund and present it before COPE within 03 months.
In addition to this, the committee members focused on the future plans of COPE and the institutions that should be prioritized. MP Ranjith Bandara mentioned that he had already discussed it with the Auditor General. Accordingly, He also mentioned that investigations will be carried out by sub-committees through a cluster committee system and a system of calling only the institutions with essential and current importance to the main committee will be facilitated.
State Ministers Janaka Wakkumbura, Lohan Ratwatte, Indika Anuruddha Herath, D. V. Chanaka, and Shantha Bandara, Members of Parliament, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohitha Abegunawardhana, Eran Wickramaratne, Nimal Lanza, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, Rohini Kumari Wijerathna, Chaminda Wijesiri, SM Marikkar, Sanjeeva Edirimanna, Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi, (Major) Sudarshana Denipitiya, Premnath C. Dolawatte, Upul Mahendra Rajapaksha, M. Rameshwaran, Rajika Wickramasinghe, Madhura Withanage, and (Prof) Charitha Herath were present at the Committee meeting. (NewsWire)