By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Our Lobby Correspondent
The Bribery Commission has started an inquiry in search of possible financial misappropriations involved in the controversial donation of Euro 5.9 million (Rs. 3,000 million) received in 2005 from the Helmut Kohl Maternity Hospital Foundation in Germany to construct a maternity ward at the Galle General Hospital.
“After seven years, the construction is limited to a foundation and the funds have disappeared,” revealed UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana yesterday in Parliament.
Deputy Minister of Health Lalith Dissanayake addressing the House stressed that neither his Ministry nor any other Government Department was responsible for the missing funds or the half-completed construction, which is limited to the foundation by a private contractor.
“Helmut Kohl Foundation gave the donation directly to the contractor, bypassing the Ministry and other State departments. We only provided a suitable land within the Galle Hospital premises honouring their request. Therefore, we are not accountable for the part-completed construction and any waste of Rs. 3,000 million. However, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has recently requested Euro 28 million from KFW Bank in Germany to complete the pending construction work,” said Deputy Minister Dissanayake.
However Pathirana, continuing to question the Government’s role in constructing the maternity ward at the Galle General Hospital, said: “The Government needs to investigate this matter that was ignored for over seven years and punish those who are involved.”
Joining the debate, Minister of International Monetary Co-operation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Dr. Sarath Amunugama revealed that the particular donation was given by the friends and family of the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who was here at a beach hotel when the tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004.
“Our Government was worried when heard Helmut Kohl was also stuck here during the tsunami. But he had been rescued by some villagers and was also given a sarong to wear, along with local food and drink. He was happy about the hospitality and continued to stay in the same village for two weeks despite the tsunami devastation, before returning to Colombo. So friends of the former Chancellor got together and made this donation as a gesture of goodwill,” said Minister Amunugama.