Report on misuse of funds reveals : Rs 11 B Pilfered from CCF
The three-member committee, appointed to probe the misuse of finances at the Central Cultural Fund (CCF), submitted its report to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (28).
The Prime Minister’s Office, in a Media release stated the report had identified that a sum of Rs 11 billion had been misappropriated between 2016 and 2019.
It further revealed an unauthorised removal of Rs 400 million from the fund during the Presidential Election in 2019.
The committee formed by the Premier comprised retired High Court Judge Gamini Sarath Edirisingha, former Secretary of Cabinet Gotabaya Jayaratna and senior Attorney-at-Law Hariguptha Rohanadeera.
The committee which investigated the financial activities of the CCF during 2016-2019 had stated that the serious misuse of finances had taken place during the aforesaid period at the CCF.
They have also proposed that legal action should be instituted against those responsible for the misappropriation of the said amount from the CCF, during the term of the previous United National Front-led regime.
According to the committee, the misappropriation of the finances of the CCF are related to the loss of a sum of Rs 2,608 million over the arbitrary takeover of money from fixed deposits sans official approval and the loss of fixed interest revenue, the incurring of a sum of Rs 753 million for construction work related to the Sisi Daham Sevana Programme sans official consent, the loss of a sum of Rs 48 million when converting revenue earned through the sale of tickets to tourists from United States Dollars to rupees, the unauthorised incurring of a sum of Rs 2,266 million for unrelated work without paying the membership fees for the Archaeological Fund, a loss of a sum of Rs 8 million when transferring property of the Ape Gama Project, a sum of Rs 2,316 that had been provided as cultural donations and grants sans any valid approval and the incurring of a sum of Rs 3,060 million for the payment of salaries and benefits to those who had been appointed to posts, having violated the appointment procedures and circulars pertaining to the CCF. The committee has further explained in its report that monies had also been released illegally from the US Dollar fund of the CCF. They have further observed that during last year’s Presidential Poll period, a sum of Rs 400 million had also been released from its fixed deposit sans any official approval.
The committee has pointed out that 25 mobile accounts had been started by the CCF, without any official approval from the Central Bank.
They have said that among other irregularities spotted by them, had been that by flouting financial regulations, equipment has been purchased; shortcomings evident when depositing monies concerning foreign-funded projects; and the compilation of documents for payments outside the accepted payment structure.
The committee has mentioned that on 15 November last year, a Director Board meeting of the CCF had been convened in order to seek approval for irregular payments that had to be made for 2019. They stated that though five members of the Director Board had taken part at the said meeting, the signatures of those members who had not even attended it had been obtained. The committee has noted that there were serious questions regarding the legality of the CCF Director Board meeting held last November and that the validity of the signatures of the members has to be ascertained.