Sirisena as president presented the cabinet for divestiture
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Communist Party lawmaker Weerakumara Weerasinghe said Bandula Gunawardena, as Minister of Commerce, should take the initiative to recover the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) donated by fraudulent means.
Appreciating the way the Public Enterprises Committee (COPE), under the leadership of Professor Charitha Herath, had handled the investigation into the acquisition of SLIIT, Matara District Lawmaker Weerasinghe said it was the responsibility of the government. to take corrective action immediately.
“We should do everything,” said MP Weerasinghe, adding that the Cabinet could take over SLIIT on its own or through an act of Parliament. When asked to explain why the Communist Party felt Minister Gunawardena should initiate the SLIIT buyout process, MP Weerasinghe pointed out that the Mahapola Higher Education Trust Fund under the Ministry of Commerce made the investment. initial amount of Rs 500 million in the project. .
SLIIT has been described as a leading non-public higher education institute approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the Universities Act.
MP Weerasinghe pointed to COPE’s disclosure that SLIIT refused to appear before the parliamentary oversight committee. According to COPE, the law firm Julius & Creasy has informed Parliament that SLIIT is not legally required to do so. COPE decided to convene the law firm to settle the case.
SLIIT’s Board of Directors is comprised of Prof. Lakshman L. Ratnayake (Chairman), Prof. Lalith Gamage (Chairman / CEO), Prof. Nimal Rajapakse, Thilan M. Wijesinghe, Reshan Dewapura, Jehan Amaratunga and father. Harsha Cabral.
Responding to another question, MP Weerasinghe said he addressed the issues under consideration in Parliament last Friday (22) during the government’s proposed adjournment debate on COPE reports submitted on March 10, 2021 and 06 April 2021.
MP Weerasinghe said Parliament Minister Gunawardena should immediately act on COPE’s disclosure. âWe should all be ashamed of what is happening in this country. Despite repeated promises to eliminate waste, corruption and irregularities, corruption is on the move, âWeerasinghe said.
Responding to another question, MP Weerasinghe said the privatization process was started in 2003 under the UNF administration led by the UNP. This process had been completed under the UNP-SLFP administration, the PC member said, noting that then president Maithripala Sirisena had submitted the relevant Cabinet document.
MP Weerasinghe said the two COPE reports that had been debated in parliament should be submitted to the Cabinet. According to him, the Minister of Education, in his capacity as House leader, could submit these reports to the Cabinet of Ministers to pave the way for their direct intervention.
Weerasinghe paid tribute to the Attorney General’s Office and COPE leaders such as DEW Gunasekera, Sunil Handunetti and outgoing Professor Charitha Herath for taking action to tackle waste, corruption and irregularities.
Lawmaker Weerasinghe said parliamentary oversight committees should follow up on their disclosures. MP Weerasinghe said that part of the UNP governments of the time (2002-2003 and 2015-2019) facilitated the gradual takeover of SLIIT contrary to what had been proposed by Ministers Kingsley T. Wickramanayake and Richard Pathirana in 1998. MP Weerasinghe said the original plan was to make SLIIT part of the University of Moratuwa. The board of directors was to be represented by representatives of the ministries of education and higher education, domestic and international trade and food, the University of Moratuwa and the Mahapola Trust Fund.