Only Rs 100M transferred to Treasury – COPE

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The State Timber Corporation (STC) had made an operating profit of Rs 1.4 billion in 2021, but only Rs 100 million has been transferred to the Treasury.

This was disclosed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) sitting held recently. The Corporation was summoned before COPE to review the Auditor General’s Reports for 2019 and 2020 and to evaluate its performance.

COPE Chairman, Dr. Charitha Herath said State institutions should be prepared to send a significant portion of their earnings to the Treasury.

The committee said the Forest Department had approved on 30 June 2020, for the removal of 28,958 pine trees from Heinford Estate in Weligampola, Kandy. However, the trees had not yet been felled.

COPE Member Mahindananda Aluthgamage said the Corporation could earn a huge profit if it could efficiently fell and export the timber recommended by the Forest Department.

COPE also said the Corporation has failed to follow instructions to call for amendments to the State Industrial Corporation Act to empower the STC to issue certificates for imported timber. In response, STC officials stated that a Board Paper has been submitted for this purpose. The Committee also drew attention to delays in this process from 2012 to date.

COPE also inquired into the write-off of Rs 14.4 million worth of debts by the Corporation without Treasury approval. Officials said the decision was taken by the then Acting Board of Directors in 2007 with the approval of the Corporate Audit and Management Committee. COPE Chairman said as the Treasury Secretary is in charge of the Consolidated Fund for Public Debt, if debts are written off, the Chief Accounting Officer should inform the Treasury Secretary and obtain the required permission.

By Methmalie Dissanayake