Written by Keshala Dias
20 Jul, 2017 | 9:52 pm
The Department of Public Enterprises has published a document called The General Guidelines for Good Governance.
However, in contravention to these guidelines, P. Harrison the Minister of Rural Economy has treated the National Livestock Development Board (NLDB), which comes under his purview, as his personal fuel supplier.
Action TV made its first revelation in this regard on May 14.
According to the guidelines, public enterprises are not permitted to incur expenditure or deploy its resources, including human resources, under any circumstance on behalf of the line ministry or any other government institutions.
However, the subject minister has used the NLDB to obtain fuel for several non official vehicles used by the minister. Action TV revealed that this action began in February 2016.
The board of directors of the NLDB consists of six persons. On January 31, 2017 three of these directors met at the Ridigama farm in Ambalantota and decided to allocate a monthly sum of Rs. 175,000 for expenditure incurred by the minister on fuel. By that point the NLDB had already spent over one million rupees for fuel used by the minister.
Following the initial Action TV revelation, the minister took steps to hand over the vehicles that he had been using illegally. However, he managed to make payments of over Rs. 1.3 million for the fuel that he obtained illegally nearly two months after handing over the vehicles.
When considering this cash receipt of the NLDB, there are concerns that the money used to settle the dues to the NLDB are also public funds.
The receipt bears the name of the “Office of the Ministry of Rural Economy”. If the payment was made by the ministry itself, then it should have been paid by the Secretary to the Ministry, and the receipt should reflect this.
The FCID case against former Minister Arumugam Thondaman for misusing state funds, proves that ministry funds being used to settle such dues is an illegal act.
During the tenure of Arumugam Thondaman, he obtained fuel from the NLDB to the tune of Rs. 4.5 million. He had repaid Rs. 3.6 million to the NLDB using ministry funds.
At a time when a decision has been reached to file criminal charges against these actions, how is it that action is not being taken against the present minister for committing a similar act?
Secretary to the Prime Minister, this is over to you…
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