The Sunday Leader

Wakf Board Funds Vandalised?

by Hafsa Sabry

The government’s failure in appointing an appropriate Minister to the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry to address the issues and the cases taken up in the Wakf Tribunal has resulted in several officials including the secretary to the ministry vandalising the charity funds, it is learnt.

The Wakf board which appoints trustees to Mosques island-wide and the Wakf tribunal which acts like a district court to deal with complaints regarding appointments and allegations against the Department of Muslim Religious And Cultural Affairs seems to be under fire as the officials and the members of it are reluctant to act accordingly.

It was alleged that the charity funds collected from the mosques all around the country given to the Wakf Board were not properly audited for the last 10-15 years by a government audit but, a private auditor. Based on the Wakf act stipulation the funds shall be audited ‘by an auditor or by any other person approved by the board’, which had been misused by the officials to vandalise the public money, it was revealed.

Meanwhile, the Wakf Board requests the audit reports from all the mosques in Sri Lanka be sent to them but, questions still remain as to why the board has not yet gone for a government audit even after having several allegations against them.

“After several pressures were forced on the department they audited the money collected from the mosques and those were spent on the needy people but, the audits are yet to go through a government audit where they cannot play out money nor fake the accounts and expenditure,” Chairman of the Islamic Solidarity Front (ISF) Reyaaz Salley said.

It was also revealed that the department has no proper documents, checks and vouchers in their possession to go through a government audit. “Had they been so transparent we request them to go through a government audit,” Salley alleged.

“For example if they collect Rs. 10,000 from the mosques they deposit around Rs. 8,000 and Rs. 2,000 goes to their pocket which does not appear in any of the audits or the accounts”, lamented one of the officials of the Wakf Board. They only have the bank statements as evidences for the audit, they added.

Salley stressed that if the department is to be audited by the government they will not be able to vandalise the charity funds that were given to the board as they request for all the vouchers, cheque books, receipts and questions over, if they fail to submit proper documents. “The Dewatagaha mosque alone had given nearly Rs. 7 million after I took office and the trustees of the mosques all around the country want to know what happened to the money sent to the wakf Board,” Salley said.

And also, over Rs. 30 million worth of charity funds which are under the maintenance of one of the clerks in the department is yet to be audited.

Meanwhile, Salley also alleged that on the instructions of the minister secretary Fahim, the selection of trustees is done during the weekend so that the officials of the board could enjoy the benefits from the ministry as they use ministry vehicles to travel outstation to enjoy the weekend,

 

Buildings and construction

It was revealed that had the ministry allowed the department to undergo a government audit, all the charity funds as well as the expenditures approved by the executive committee under the influence of the Ministry Secretary, could have been well managed saving millions of rupees that could have been used in the  completion of the building of the ministry.

Even though  the foundation for the Ministry building construction was laid in 2006, it had not been completed to date. It was learnt that the government had recently allocated money to complete three floors out of nine, but the department is in need of proper building spaces for the Wakf Tribunal and the Board. Salley further stated that had the ministry have properly managed their financial management and audited their accounts they could have easily managed to complete the construction of all the nine floors as the department has adequate money in possession.

Due to the weakness of the former Director for Department of Muslim Religious And Cultural Affairs the construction was abandoned but the current minister A. H. Hasheem should be concerned about the construction. It is unfortunate that the judges of the Shariʿa court (Khazis) conduct their sittings and hearings in the lobby of the department. It lacks a proper court room for the judges as well as an auditorium which has become a major issue in the department.

Meanwhile, allegations have been levelled against the minister for failing to handle the Wakf Board properties in the country. Salley claimed that number of lands and buildings worth of several millions that belong to the Ministry are not taken care of as some private individuals sublet the buildings on 99 years lease. Nevertheless, given the circumstances the ‘Temple Law’ amended in the parliament stipulates that noone can own the properties of the temple at any time and the law should be applied even to the properties of mosques, Salley stressed.

 

Removing of the Secretary

Meanwhile, the former secretary to the Ministry, Mr. Majeed was removed from his position during the election by the election commissioner in the claim of using ministry vehicles for election campaigns which is considered a violation of the law.

But it was alleged that the petition against the secretary was submitted by the minister’s brother Fahim in the intention of getting him removed as he would not dance according to their tunes. Following the removal of the former secretary, Fahim had appointed many private employees under his influence to which he has no right, for he is only a co-ordinating secretary to the minister.

Adding insult to the injury, it is learnt that the minister is not aware of what his brother does using his influence while he is also alleged to have been threatened the employees who attempted to voice against him.

Moreover, it was revealed that it has been four months since a burglary took place in the Department of Muslim Religious And Cultural Affairs but a detailed report on it is yet to be submitted by the officials. It was suspected to be an inside job and no one knows what documents were removed to date. It is unfortunate that the ministry seems to turn a blind eye on investigating into the case. “The doors of the department were not damaged nor the locks were broken hence it could be an inside job and I suspect some officials in there who are behind it,” protested Salley.

In addition, several allegations were levelled against the secretary Mr. Fahim as he interferes with trustees’ appointments, activities of Wakf tribunal and Wakf board which he has no right to while, he also dictates the members of the Board on what to do, Salley added.

However, it is unfortunate that All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) which is one of the powerful bodies and capable of handling the Muslim affairs turns a blind eye to the money vandalizing in the Ministry. It is the responsibility of all the institutions under the department of Muslim affairs to voice against the illegal and influential activities taking place in the ministry, Salley added.

 

Minister responds

Responding to The Sunday Leader the Minister H. Hasheem said that he completely denies all the allegations levelled against him and the ministry as there were no ministers for the Muslim Religious Affairs during the previous regime, and it will take some time to organise and to make it progress.

“The Wakf act stipulates that the accounts can be audited by a private auditor approved by the board and if there will be a need for a government audit we are ready to do that too. There could have been a lack of documents in the ministry to conduct a proper audit but the audits for the last two years are up to date,”Minister H. Hasheem said. He further stated that he is unaware of a clerk being appointed to look into 30 million charity funds and will look into the matter.

The Minister also claimed that it has been two years since he took office and since then the ministry is looking into issues that were not solved before. New lawyers were being appointed to look into the properties that belong to the ministry and they will soon sort out the problems one by one.

When questioned about the burglary that took place in the department the minister said that they followed the usual procedure and lodged a complaint but it was confirmed that nothing was lost hence, there was no need for a report to be submitted.

Meanwhile, the minister claimed that none of the appointments to the ministry can be made by the minister or the secretary to the minister for there is a Post General Manager to do that. He also said the constructions were not completed as there was not a minister or a proper management for the Muslim affairs department all these years and all the issues will be solved soon. “The allegations are baseless,” he added.

 

2 Comments for “Wakf Board Funds Vandalised?”

  1. Samson

    Ask the BBS to take over and run this organisation!

  2. wijelion

    to hell with your stupid organization, take this to saudi or afghanistan, and Mr Samson you can go with them too..

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