CoPE calls foul on Cricket Aid

Wednesday, 4 September 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SLC Headquarters 

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

The Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (CoPE) yesterday instructed Sri Lanka Cricket to suspend the operations and accounts of its charity arm, Cricket Aid, with immediate effect until the completion of an investigation by the Auditor General.

Officials from Sri Lanka Cricket appeared before the CoPE yesterday in the Parliamentary Complex where they were at length over financial irregularities in the Cricket Aid account. Having failed to receive any answers to their satisfaction, the members of CoPE at one point labelled Sri Lanka Cricket a “den of thieves,” as they proceeded to seek the Auditor General’s intervention to investigate the matter further.

Among other things, during the interrogation it came to light that the Sooriyawewa Stadium, constructed at a cost of Rs. 5 billion, had been recently valued by Government Assessor at not more than Rs. 900 million.

The CoPE also questioned the Secretary of the Ministry of Sports Chulananda Perera as to why individuals directly or indirectly engaged in the betting industry were allowed to be associated with Sri Lanka Cricket, something recently banned by a Sports Ministry gazette notification. 

It was also revealed that Sri Lanka Cricket had avoided updating their regulations, so as to prevent the Auditor General from investigating the Cricket Aid account since 2016. 

Cricket Aid was established in 2004, following the Boxing Day Tsunami and was resurrected in 2016 with the aim of raising funds for the eradication of the Chronic Kidney Disease pandemic rampant in the North Central Province. According to CoPE the Cricket Aid has spent more funds on fundraising campaigns than it has raised through those events.

Sri Lanka Cricket President Shammi Silva, SLC Vice President Ravin Wickramaratne, and SLC Assistant Treasurer Lalith Rambukwella were among the key office bearers who skipped the CoPE sitting. Unable to move forward with the scheduled investigation in the absence of key office bearers, the CoPE ordered Sri Lanka Cricket to appear before them again on 19th September.