COPE probes cases of procedural impropriety and financial misappropriation at Peradeniya Uni.
March 26, 2023 07:52 pm
The Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) has investigated numerous cases of procedural impropriety and financial misappropriation at the University of Peradeniya.
This comes in the wake of an evaluation of current performance and status of issues raised in the Auditor General’s report from 2020 and 2021.
The COPE Chairman, Professor Ranjith Bandara attributed the lack of financial accountability and the execution of past directives due to the non -participation of members of the Audit and Management Committee.
Salient questions were asked of the University hierarchy who were present as to what would motivate these individuals to abscond proceedings with massive amounts of monies that are not properly accounted for.
1.Scrutiny into payment of salaries by staff in violation of attendance frequency
The Committee further queried the violation of a University Grants Commission circular in University Academic support staff presenting their attendance record. The committee requested that procedure be immediately implemented to address this violation.
Concurrently, an issue was also raised about lecturers who go overseas for study through scholarships received through the government and have dues owed to the universities. The Committee directed that these dues need to be effectively collected and advised the University Grants Commission to give them direction to come back to Sri Lanka and serve within the universities domestically for at least a period of 5 years following their overseas training.
2.Inquiry into unsubstantiated expenses incurred by the University Board
Numerous financial misappropriation issues were addressed. Some of which included the rationale behind the purchase of table tennis tables which cost less than what was actually disbursed. On a similar note, the Chairman of the Committee also requested the physical presence of the director who authorized the renovations of the Arunachalam and Wijewardena Campus hostels for clarification as to the large sums of money that had been allocated accordingly. The Chair further addressed the compulsory leave and subsequent dismissal of the former Registrar without so much as an inquiry into the mismanagement of funds.
3.Inquiry into funds allocated and rents not collected by the University for various buildings under its purview, with a timeline by the Committee on restitutive measures.
With regards to building projects around the campus, the Chairman directed the Vice Chancellor to appoint a committee to look into the foundation of the central building of the engineering faculty due to subsequent costs incurred as a result of improper due diligence and utilise a deposit the University already has to begin putting up a structure on the existing foundation. Concurrently a purported art gallery which is in dilapidated condition was directed by the committee to be renovated per the University’s plans expeditiously with an update to be furnished within 30 days.
The Chairman also requested the Survey General’s support in ensuring that lands conferred to the University of Peradeniya would not be encroached on.
Discrepancy regarding uncollected rent from buildings owned by the University leased to the Samurdhi ministry was addressed. The Chairman of the Committee directed the university to either revise the owed rent from the Valuation Department or request the Samurdhi Director General to hand the property back to the University. The timeline for this was 06 months to review and collect all outstanding dues.
4.Attention to a purported software system that is yet to come online.
The Committee queried the continual payment of a license fee for a software system which purportedly was built for use. The Chairman pointed out that software systems that collect a subscription are ones that are already existing with the option to modify it. With the project originally set to be completed by almost 04 years ago, the Chairman directed the Board to resolve this expeditiously and provide an update of proceedings within the next 30 days.
The meeting was adjourned with the revelation that the 0.01% of revenue generated through self-funding activity has not been disbursed to any university from January 2018 to date.
Follow up to all matters to ensure real-time accountability will take place in 03 months from now per the direction of the Chairman of the Committee.