Scholarships: India told to come through Treasury

Sri Lanka has told India that all foreign scholarships given to public servants should be channelled through the External Resources Department of the Treasury and not be given directly to recipients, a top official said yesterday.

The Treasury’s External Resources Director General Mapa Pathirana told the Sunday Times that the position was conveyed to India after a discussion with officials of the External Affairs Ministry.
“We have had some inquiries about offers of scholarships directly,” he said without elaborating from where the inquiries were made. Mr. Pathirana said that after the inquires, they had briefed the Indian High Commission about the procedure.

He said the Indian High Commission officials were told that if necessary a copy could be sent to the relevant agency, but the original of the invitation should come to the External Resources Department.
“We have a procedure which will be followed. We will contact the relevant ministry, channel the invitation and make recommendations,” he said.The government also has put on hold a US$ 2 million (Rs. 227 million) offer by India to modify the Agriculture faculty of the Jaffna University and provide more training facilities to it.

Jaffna University Vice Chancellor V. Arasaratnam said the Treasury had instructed them not to accept the offer or to have direct dealings with any diplomatic mission. However, the VC said it was on the instructions from the University Grants Commission that the university had initiated action to obtain the assistance.

Meanwhile Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna during his recent visit announced the increase of educational assistance to Sri Lanka.

“I am happy to announce a substantial increase in India’s educational assistance, amounting to 2.5 billion Sri Lankan rupees in grant-funding, to assist meritorious Sri Lankan students,” he said speaking at an event in Galle.“Under this programme, scholarships and self-financing slots for masters and doctorate-level courses will be increased to nearly 270 per year.

This marks a three-fold increase, and includes 120 slots for undergraduate courses, 25 seats for IT engineering, 50 slots for Masters-level courses, and 40 slots for a highly-subsidized self-financing scheme. In addition, support for deserving students pursuing their GCE ‘A’ level and university degrees in Sri Lankan institutions has been expanded to cover about 500 students every year,” he said.

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