Written by Staff Writer
04 Sep, 2019 | 9:24 pm
Colombo (News 1st) – Questions were raised regarding the Central Cultural Fund in parliament today (September 4).
MP of UPFA, T.B. Ekanayake highlighted that they have been informed that Rs. 3600 million has been released from the Central Cultural Fund of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs which comes under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, without obtaining approval. “Where was the money spent? The house should be informed about who obtained this money”, he continued.
State Minister of Finance, Eran Wickramaratne emphasized that when discussing such things in parliament, a report of the Auditor-General should be produced in order to show that there is an actual issue to be discussed noting that a report has not been presented in this regard. He further added the need for a report from either the COPE or COPA following discussions and debates in those forums.
T.B. Ekanayake speaking in reference to the cabinet paper stated that they have recruited employees and assigned them to their respective workplaces. However, he continued, that the previous government removed those workplaces relieving the employees of their duties. “They then took this up in courts. The courts then ruled this illegal. Let me explain. I’d like to ask the subject minister, can you recruit people without obtaining approval?”, he continued.
MP of UNP, Thushara Indunil continued, “the former minister says that there was no cadre. My simple question is, the employees who were recruited to the manpower agency for Rs 1200, were paid only Rs 700. Where is the remaining Rs 500?”.
Minister of Housing, Construction & Cultural Affairs, Sajith Premadasa stated that they have used funds worth Rs.1598 million. He explained that they had to obtain money from the deposits because the revenue decreased following the terror attack in April. “I’d like to state responsibly, that these funds were not used for the well being of any individual, a private entity or any other organization”, he noted. He mentioned that 361 dhamma schools have been constructed at a cost of Rs. 3 million each, in line with the Thripitakabi Wandana program.
“How is that considered as wrongdoing in this country? Is it a sin? Is it a punishable act?”, he questioned. The Minister stated that Rs. 78.5 million has been spent on special programs were implemented around Hambantota. He further noted that several sub-projects worth Rs. 49 million have been implemented in line with the Abhayagiri project adding that for 11 projects in Mirisawetiya, Thooparamaya, and Mihintale, Rs.384 million has been spent.
The Minister stated that he intends to attend an opening ceremony of the Asgiriya Chapter next week. “I’m not doing business or laundering money. This is also not to obtain bribes or commissions. I’m doing something for the country. So why are you unfairly accusing me? “, he continued. The Minister stated that his target for this year is to construct 1000 dhamma schools in this country. He reasoned that despite the allegations made against him on acting without approval, the other MPs do the same referring to Akila Viraj Kariyawasam who he claimed to have done a large number of projects in a similar way.
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