Committee alleges Rs. 11 b misused at Central Cultural Fund

Wednesday, 29 July 2020 03:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Prime Ministerial Committee appointed to investigate the financial irregularities at the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) has revealed that Rs. 11 billion was misappropriated during the three-year period from 2016 to 2019.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said the alleged misappropriation was made public when the committee, comprising retired High Court Judge Gamini Sarath Edirisinghe, Retired Secretary to Cabinet Ministry Gotabaya Jayaratne, and Senior Attorney-at-Law Hariguptha Rohanadheera, handed over its report to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees yesterday.

According to the report submitted to the Prime Minister, withdrawals from fixed deposits and loss of interest for those funds caused a loss of Rs. 2.6 billon, while Rs. 753 million was spent without an approval for construction purposes under the ‘Sisu Daham Sevana’ program.

The report highlights a loss of Rs. 48 million incurred in the process of converting the income generated via tourist tickets from dollars to rupees. It also alleged that the contribution of Rs. 2.3 billion for the Archaeology Trust Fund was neglected, and had been used for other work unlawfully.

Further, the report reveals of a loss of Rs. 8 million in the process of handing over the assets of the ‘Ape Gama’ project, while Rs. 2.3 billion was distributed as cultural donations and grants without proper approval.

The report also states that CCF neglected the staff requirement limit, and as a result it had incurred a loss of Rs. 3 billion for salary and bonus overheads.

Highlighting that the CCF had maintained an account in dollars, the report alleged it had withdrawn funds unlawfully, while another Rs. 400 million was withdrawn from its fixed deposit account during the Presidential Election in 2019, without any approval.

The report also revealed that the CCF had opened 25 current accounts without an approval from the Treasury, and that it had also ignored financial regulations and had later created documents to cover up the irregularities, the report alleged.

According to the report, a Board Meeting was called on 15 November 2019 to get approval for the expenses of 2019. Although only five members attended the meeting, the Board paper included the signatures of all absent members. 

Noting that there is a distrust on the legality of the Board paper, the Committee had recommended to collect signatures of all Board members for verification purpose.

Considering the colossal financial irregularities and the administration oversight at CCF, the Committee has also recommended legal action, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Prime Minister’s Secretary Gamini Senerath and Additional Secretaries Chaminda Kularathna and Ganesh Dharmawardhana were also present at the report submission.