“Disputes between the government. named major obstacle ‘
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The parliamentary committee for the supervision of public enterprises-COPE has asked for an explanation of the unauthorized spending on the “Yowunpura” in 2018 and 2019.
A recent COPE investigation revealed huge losses and an attempt to suppress the government’s audit process.
According to COPE, the yahapalana the government had spent Rs. 80,560,914 on the estimated cost of Rs. 350 mn. Then-President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe attended the 2018 event; the president skipped the event the following year.
The then minister, Sagala Ratnayaka, played a key role in organizing the UNP flagship project “Yowunpura” to attract young people. The COPE investigation found that public funds had been spent, without proper procedures
COPE revealed the violation of procurement process regarding ‘Yowunpura’ 2019, an additional payment in the amount of Rs. 2,227,400 had to be made. COPE President Professor Charitha Herath chaired the meeting. In addition to the President, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera (SLPP), Minister of State Susil Premajayantha (SLPP) and Madhura Withanage, MP and Premnath C. Dolawatte, MP attended. The COPE members who were part of the UNP at the time and now represent the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) skipped the meeting in question. The original COPE included Mahinda Amaraweera, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohitha Abegunawardhana, Susil Premajayantha, Jayantha Samaraweera, Dilum Amunugama, Indika Anuruddha Herath, (Dr.) Sarath Weerasekara, DV Chanaka, (Dr.) Nalaka Godahewawa to serve as governor of the Central Bank), Rauff Hakeem, Anura Dissanayaka, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Jagath Pushpakumara, Eran Wickramaratne, Ranjan Ramanayake (seat lost after being convicted by the Supreme Court for contempt of court), Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, SM Marikkar, Premnath C. Dolawatte , Shanakiyan Rajaputhrian Rasamanickam and (prof.) Charitha Herath.
COPE also observed that Rs. 1,932,500 was spent on 1,773 t-shirts to distribute to young people after the conclusion of the “yowunpura” meeting in 2016. The parliamentary oversight committee noted that public funds had been spent. without the approval of a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC).
It was also revealed during this Committee meeting that according to the Survey Board report, 268,000 leaflets had been thrown away while the total cost of printing in 2017 was Rs. 1,822,400.
Although Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. was established in 1981 with over 98% stake in the National Youth Services Council, it was revealed at the committee meeting that joint funding had never been prepared.
Instructions on non-disclosure of matters relating to the National Youth Services Council and Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd to third parties by means of an internal circular issued by the president of these institutions Dhammith Wickremesinghe to the division heads on October 8, 2021 was also disclosed to the COPE committee. The Committee stressed that it was hampering the work of the National Audit Office and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
Professor Herath urged Sports Ministry Secretary Anuradha Wijekoon and Youth Services Chief Dhammith Wickremesinghe to stop fighting and work to achieve government goals. The legislator, Professor Herath, stressed that cooperation between the main state institutions is of crucial importance.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Chairman of the National Youth Services Council and Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. should cooperate or face the consequences, Professor Hearth said. Their failure to do so would pose a serious obstacle for the government, Professor Herath said at the COPE meeting last Tuesday (16).
The COPE president also tasked the secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Anuradha Wijekoon, to take immediate action against the officials who were found to be negligent and misbehave.
The Committee also noted that the Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. had not drawn up a consolidated plan since 2017. The Committee also questioned the company for not having drawn up an action plan.
Committee chairman Prof Charitha Herath said there was a delay in submitting the annual reports of the National Youth Services Council to Parliament and also questioned the non-submission of Sri Lanka’s annual reports. Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. since 2015. The Committee has also asked the Ministry of Youth and Sports to submit all these reports promptly to Parliament.
Although it was decided to build the Nilwala Youth Park in Matara by a Cabinet decision, COPE stressed that no feasibility study had been carried out in this regard. The Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training paid Rs. 142,810,543 as compensation and interest to the affected landowners and Rs. 7,657,349 as advisory fees to the National Council for Youth Services as of December 31, 2014.