Indian corporation at the centre of school uniform coupons scandal

Indian corporation at the centre of school uniform coupons scandal

Indian corporation at the centre of school uniform coupons scandal

Written by Tharushan Fernando

27 Nov, 2016 | 9:05 pm

Last year, the Education Ministry opted for a coupon system to replace the provision of free school uniforms, so parents could purchase the required material externally.

The coupon system was introduced through notices published in newspapers.

The advertorial which sang the praises of the coupon system and its advantages to both school children and traders, identified the traders as “Mudalali Mama” or Mudalali Uncle.

However, as per this letter (see video) from the Education Secretary exposed by Action TV on Saturday, the Mudalali Uncles in the towns and villages, will not benefit from the coupon system next year.

Through this letter addressed to all provincial and zonal education directors and school principals, their support is reqeusted for a scheme to sell uniform material apparently sold at a competitive price by Lanka Salu Sala, to school children in rural, remote and isolated schools.

There are about 4,000 schools in the country which fall into this categorisation.

Nevertheless, Lanka Salu  Sala does not appear to be involved in any sort of operation to sell uniform material at a competitive price.

One hundred and ninety eight (198) employees of Lanka Salu Sala opted for the voluntary retirement scheme offered by the Yahapalanaya government, which has resulted in the organisation’s human resource pool being reduced to 19 employees.

In order to pay the wages of these nineteen employees, for the past three months, Lanka Salu Sala has only been engaged in minor day to day trade.

Over the past 22 months, under the Yahapalanaya government, the Treasury has not provided even a cent of working capital for Lanka Salu Sala.

This highlights the false nature of this letter with regard to what it says about Lanka Salu Sala.

Through this false letter, what the Education Secretary has actually done, is create a market for an Indian company and its local agent.

Masquerading under the reputation of Lanka Salu Sala, the local agent of the Indian company, goes to these 4,000 schools and provides material to sew uniforms, instead of the afore-mentioned coupons.

The material is being cut and packaged in Piliyandala at present.

The local agent in question masquerading under the name of Lanka Salu Sala, imported 468,000 meters of cloth last year, which he was unable to distribute.

This cloth and a further two million metres imported this year, will now be distributed among over 4,000 schools, in exchange for the coupons provided by the ministry.

This amounts to a more unethical, ugly and fraudulent scheme than what was created through the coupon system.

By misusing the name of Lanka Salu Sala, the Ministry of Education has paved the way for an Indian corporation and its local agent to be paid a large sum of public funds, without being selected through a competitive procurement process.

Will authorities and officials who have exploited a loophole to prevent any intervention from the Independent Commission on Procurements, in order to make massive profits, continue to receive the blessings of the Yahapalanaya government?

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