The latest report issued by the National Audit Office states that more than 4800 million rupees granted to many religious places by the Central Cultural Fund in 2018 has been misappropriated.
According to the report issued by the National Audit Office, the money granted under the “Sunodhaya” program had not been used properly and although no work has been done, no reports as to what happened to those money.
A number of religious places such as temples and churches have not completed the development programs properly by using those funds and thus the then Minister in charge of the subject, Sajith Premadasa or the Central Cultural Fund have not even done any follow-up regarding the use of money.
Accordingly, the report which points out that the Minister in charge of the Central Cultural Fund, Sajith Premadasa and its officials should be held responsible for the lack of follow-up also stressed that all who have released these funds are bound to hold responsibility sine these money of the Central Cultural fund is not belonged to any individual personally but the money of the public.
The National Audit Report also emphasizes that issuing money from any fund without verifying the identity of the recipient of the grant for a specific project is considered an illegal transaction, and issuing money without knowing who the recipient of the money is a misappropriation of money and a corrupt act.
What needs to be taken into account here is the involvement of religious places in swindling an amount of 4800 million and such a thin should not happen at all, but in 2019, the Central Cultural Fund did not follow the proper method in providing financial assistance for promoting religion, religious places and maintaining religious practices. Accordingly in 63 cases cheques amounting to nearly 300 million rupees had been issued to ministerial staff officers and employees of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
The National Audit Report which points out that this is an act of violation of the government's financial regulations which also indicates that there is a serious suspicion that someone has embezzled this money, also alleges that all the facilities for such an irregularity have been provided through this carelessness.
Shouldn't it be immediately investigated as to who gave the permission to release the money of the Central Cultural Fund to the ministerial staff officers and employees in this way..? It is necessary to interrogate not only the officials who are responsible for this but also the politicians and find out the truth. These types of irregularities can only be prevented by taking stern action on this case.
Only by taking such drastic measures can prevent such irregularities from happening again. The Buddhist Monks of some temples are strongly protesting that their electricity bills have increased greatly these days. It should also be investigated whether the temples where the protesting monks reside are among the religious places that have received financial grants from the Central Cultural Fund and whether they have made proper use of the money thus obtained. The Central Cultural Fund should be able to insist that the money granted to religious places should be properly utilized if those grants had not been used for the development programs of the temple, the area or the contributors to the temple.
At least the religious places should be requested to install solar panels from the grants thus released by the fund. If no action is taken on these religious places, the people of this country will feel that millions of money had been misappropriated through religious places. It is also clear that the offices attached to the Central Cultural Fund also had supported this misappropriation. Or it should be pointed out that this misuse has happened due to political influence.
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