ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 2, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40
Kandy Times  

Official accused of robbing exchange from school heads

By L.B.Senaratne and Shane Seneviratne

Central Province school principals who were taken on a foreign tour in appreciation of successfully implementing in their schools the Five S programme, have been allegedly deprived of their foreign exchange allowances, a preliminary investigation into allegations against the Central Province Education Ministry Secretary D.M.R.B.Dissanayake has revealed.

The Secretary has been relieved of his duties at the Ministry following an allegation of corruption pertaining to misappropriation of foreign exchange and funds of the council. Some 34 school principals were taken on the trip to India after they were selected by the Education Ministry of the province for their success in implementing the Five S programme. The Five S programme focuses on organization, cleanliness and standardization to improve profitability, efficiency, service and safety with emphasis on sorting, systematic organisation, shine, standardization and sustainability.

The principals were to be paid US $ 125 as daily allowance, but they had allegedly been deprived of the money. Investigators are expected to question or record statements of principals and other ministry officials in the next few days. Health Ministry Secretary Vijitha Ekanayake who was earlier Education Ministry Secretary has been appointed to oversee the Ministry, until investigations into the alleged fraud are completed.

The investigation began after Central Province Governor Tikiri Kobbekaduwa ordered the Provincial Council internal audit unit to probe the allegation of a foreign exchange fraud in the Central Province Education Ministry. This allegation was made by a senior Central Provincial Council member Anura Fernando (PA) who said the Education Ministry Secretary had misused foreign exchange monies.

This allegation was made during the Provincial Council debate in the Council chamber at Pallekelle on the Governor's Address. Councillor Fernando told the Council the alleged fraud involved Rs. 1,621,000. He said that as this was purely a foreign exchange fraud the Council should call upon the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate it.

He detailed the manner in which the fraud was perpetrated. He said that 34 principals from the Provincial schools had been selected for a training programme at Bangalore in India. Two persons who were not employees of the Ministry had accompanied the principals, he said.

Mr. Fernando had said only one cheque was drawn on the Bank of Ceylon Super Branch account in favour of the officer concerned after he had obtained letters of consent from the principals. The officer had then allegedly cashed the cheque from another bank in Kandy.

Councillor Fernando said the normal procedure was for the passport holder to fill in what is known as the 'D' form which is available at the Bank after which the passport holder would be issued travellers cheques. But in this case this procedure was not adhered to and the monies retained by this officer who had allegedly given a paltry sum for expenses to each of the principals before they left for India.

Councillor Fernando also said that airlines normally give extra tickets depending on the number of seats booked and paid for. In this case he alleged four outsiders were taken on this trip, including a person identified as Galigamuwa. He said the entire matter was a fraud carried out by the officer concerned.

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