Committee headed by judge to probe irregularities within Central Cultural Fund

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has recommended that a committee, headed by a retired court judge, be appointed to investigate the issues raised by the special audit report of the Central Cultural Fund for the period between 2015 and 2019.

It was also recommended that the report of the newly-proposed committee be presented before COPE within 03 months.
These recommendations were amongst five recommendations given during a COPE meeting held yesterday (07 March), under the patronage of Prof. Ranjith Bandara.

The meeting was held in order to investigate the matters raised by the special audit report on the functioning of the Central Cultural Fund and to examine the progress of the implementation of recommendations previously given by COPE on 24 November 2022.

The Internal Inquiry Committee, appointed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, to investigate the matters raised in the said Special Audit Report for the purpose of reporting to COPE, was also discussed at length, with COPE recommending that the committee be dissolved.

Meanwhile, the validity of the 209th meeting of the governing council of the Central Cultural Fund was also discussed, after concerns in this regard were raised at the previous COPE meeting.

Accordingly, the Auditor General pointed out that only seven of the 11 members have agreed to the decisions of the 209th meeting and four, including the former Prime Minister, have not signed.

Stating that there is a discrepancy between the signatures used by the seven signatories on the signature list of this meeting and the signatures used by them in the previous governing board meetings, the Auditor General pointed out that the decisions of the 209th governing board meeting have not been adopted in the 210th meeting.

The Auditor General also stated that the then Prime Minister’s Secretary and the current President’s Secretary, who were members of the relevant governing body, confirmed that he was not a party to such a meeting.

Thus, COPE recommended that the validity of the signature list of the 209th meeting be checked and that the relevant list be referred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Government Inspector.

As per COPE’s recommendations, the Central Cultural Fund is due to be recalled before COPE to review the progress of the previous recommendations made by COPE.

State Ministers Janaka Wakkumbura, Lohan Ratwatte, Indika Anuruddha Herath, D. V. Chanaka, Shantha Bandara Members of Parliament, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohitha Abegunawardhana, Eran Wickramaratne, Nimal Lanza,  Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, (Mrs.) Rohini Kumari Wijerathna, Chaminda Wijesiri, SM Marikkar, Sanjeeva Edirimanna, Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi, (Major) Sudarshana Denipitiya, Premnath C. Dolawatte, Upul Mahendra Rajapaksha, M. Rameshwaran, Rajika Wickramasinghe, Madhura Withanage, (Prof) Charitha Herath were present at the Committee meeting.