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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Saturday, August 25, 2007

COPE exposes corruption in 20 more state institutions

Daily Mirror: 25/08/2007" By Kelum Bandara & Yohan Perera

As controversy swirled over the shocking first report of the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises and the government’s inaction on it, COPE yesterday issued an even more shocking second report disclosing financial malpractices to the tune of a staggering six billion rupees in another 20 state institutions.

In this second report, COPE Chairman Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa said the Foreign Employment Bureau had failed to pay compensation to 11,130 repatriated workers affected by the Kuwaiti war of 1991, despite Rs.1.6 billion being allocated to it for this purpose. Mr. Rajapaksa described this as a matter of grave concern.

He said COPE had examined allegations of financial frauds at the National Housing Development Authority which had sold a land belonging to it at Kirimandala Mawatha in Narahenpita for a mere Rs.75 million while its actual value was about Rs.4,000 million. There was no cabinet approval for this sale.

The report said that in another instance the Authority had put up 35 houses on a land in Kandy which did not belong to it.

“This is another case of blatant waste of public funds,” the COPE Chairman said.

He said the Authority had sold an apartment in the Liberty Plaza shopping complex for Rs. 7.5 million while its value was Rs. 111 million.

Referring to the Sri Lanka Cashew Corporation, he said it was a ‘white elephant’ which did little that was productive and failed to achieve its targets.

The COPE Chairman said the National Gem and Jewellery Authority was another state body which did not make a contribution towards the development of the country.
The report said the Authority lacked vision and an action plan and was managed inefficiently. Mr. Rajapaksa said Rs.92 million had been allocated in 2001 to establish a laboratory to test gems and assess their values.

“So far little has been done and as a result, the government has lost a large amount of income”, he said.

Mr. Rajapakse said because of the inefficiency of the Coconut Development Board the revenue accumulated through coconut exports had declined by 33 percent from 2000 to date, however, the expenditure of the Board had increased by 107 percent.

COPE found the Exports Development Board and the Building Material Corporation as two other state bodies being managed without proper plans to serve the interests of the country.
The report said the National Transport Commission had issued 442 route permits deviating from the usual legal procedure.

The COPE also reported on financial irregularities at the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd., Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, the Consumer Affairs Authority and the Mahapola Higher Education Trust Fund. Mr.Rajapaksa said the country had lost around Rs.1,200 million because of an online lottery started by using monies form the Mahapola Fund.

“The Mahapola Fund was started by the late Minister Lalith Athulathmudali to promote welfare facilities to students.

Its monies have been used for the online lottery even without approval from the Attorney General,” he said.

COPE submitted its first report on January last year.

There has been widespread criticism against the government for failing to take action against errant politicians and officials involved in instances of corruption.

Parliament had a full-days debate on the first report with the Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle agreeing to have a two-day debate on the second report.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Self-sustenance lessons for Lankan farmers

Newindpress: 22/08/2007"

BHUBANESWAR: In a move aimed at raising the socio-economic profile of fishermen beyond India, Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA) here kicked off a capacity building exercise for Sri Lankan farmers on Tuesday.

CIFA has been identified as the regional lead centre in Asia-Pacific to train the community in the region in various aspects of fishing and raise production to fight poverty and malnutrition.

The training programme was inaugurated by vice-chancellor of Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, Prof Dilip Kumar. The 10- day exercise would introduce the farmers to fish breeding and seed production techniques on varieties like ‘Rohu,’ ‘Mrigal’ and ‘Catla’ (Bhakura).

This apart, they would also be exposed to ‘fingerling rearing’ and pond culture, said CIFA director N. Sarangi. He said the initiative has been widely acclaimed in promoting regional cooperation.Growth of the aquaculture sector in almost all the countries in the region has been considered crucial considering that they not only sustain livelihood of lakhs of persons but also boost economic growth.

The Sri Lankan farmers would be imparted training through ‘learning by doing.’ They would gain first-hand experience in key aspects of hatchery management, selection of brood, hormone injection, spawn collection and nursery pond management. The group is being headed by Rajapakshe of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

CIFA has also been engaged in capacity building of officers of Fisheries Departments of several States in the country. Recently, a group of entrepreneurs from Iran have also evinced interest to attend training programme at the centre.

Fishermen of Bangladesh, who attended a similar programme organised by CIFA last year, reported quantum jump in production and sustained growth rate.

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