The Sunday Leader

Samurdhi Funds Plagued With Irregularities

By Nirmala Kannangara

Bandula Thilakasiri

The investment of Rs. 86.579 million by the Samurdhi Authority in four institutions during the period 2000 to 2004, had not received any dividends up to June 2012, according to the interim report of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).
However, the Samurdhi Authority claims that they have not invested Rs. 86.579 million in shares in four institutions but only Rs.65.635 million between the years 2000 to 2002. In its interim report presented ahead of the 2013 budget, COPE has identified six major issues that have adversely affected Samurdhi funds.
Out of these six issues, the investment of Rs. 86.579 million in four institutions between the years 2000- 2004 has not brought any dividends to the Samurdhi Authority at the time the COPE investigations were carried out.
Out of these said Rs. 86.579 million investments, Rs. 55 million has been invested in shares at Pan Asia Bank while the rest have been invested in shares in Sigiriya Furniture Kuruwita, Galgamuwa Export Development Project Galgamuwa and ACX Courier Services Battaramulla.
According to Director General, Samurdhi Authority Bandula Thilakasiri, investments in shares have been made to the tune of Rs.65.635 million between 2000- 2002, although COPE has stated an amount of  Rs.86.579 million which is Rs.20 million over than the actual amount.
“Since the figures given in the COPE report are incorrect, we are now in the process of making a report with the actual amounts. Once this is finalized, we hope to send our report to COPE within two weeks,” said Thilakasiri.
Thilakasiri further said that three investments were made not seeking any dividends but to help the Samurdhi beneficiaries.
According to him, Rs. 55 million had been invested in shares at Pan Asia Bank in 2000, Rs. 750,000 in Sigiriya Furniture Kuruwita in 2000, Rs. 476,000 in Galgamuwa Export Development Project in 2002 and Rs. 409,000 in ACX Courier Services Battaramulla in 2001.
“Other than in the Pan Asia Bank share investment, we cannot expect any dividends from the other three ventures as we invested in them to help the Samurdhi beneficiaries in their respective areas,” said Thilakasiri. He further said that although Pan Asia Bank failed to pay dividends earlier, they later doubled the amount of shares as arrears.
“In addition we received Rs. 55,000 returns from Sigiriya Furniture for the last 12 years while we are planning to sell the shares in the Galgamuwa Export Development Project not to recover the invested amount but to get some return. We did not receive any return from the ACX Courier Services. All these three investments were made not to get any dividends but as help to Samurdhi beneficiaries,” Thilakasiri said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Administrative Officer of the Samurdhi Authority has informed COPE that the Samurdhi Authority has decided to sell its shares at a higher price.

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