Sajith denies Central Cultural Fund misused

Sajith Premadasa at Parliament of Sri Lanka

Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa yesterday denied Opposition allegations on misappropriation of money regarding the Central Cultural Fund in Parliament.

The Minister explained the funds were used for development of the country but not for the benefit of individuals or companies in particular held that Rs. 1,598 million was withdrawn from the deposits to face the damages of Easter Sunday attacks.

“Easter Sunday attacks reduced income. None of the funds were utilised for anyone’s personal wellbeing. The Ministry aims to complete the construction of 1,000 Dhamma schools this year. We have commenced a program called ‘Sisu Daham Sevana’ concurrent with the ‘Tripitaka bhiwandana’ program where Rs. 3 million is spent on constructing 361 Dhamma schools. Is this wrong? We have commenced several projects centred around Hambantota amounting to Rs. 78.5 million. We have commenced the Abhayagiri project at a cost of Rs. 49 million.

“For the 11 projects in Mirisawetiya, Thuparamaya and Mihinthale under the Maha Vihara project alone Rs. 384 million have been allocated. Further, Rs. 10.2 million for the Sigiriya project, Rs. 116.1 million for the Kandy project, Rs. 8.3 million for Polonnaruwa, Rs. 65.5 million for Kuragala, Rs. 11 million for Badulla, Rs. 6.2 million for Kegalle, Rs. 6.8 million for Yapahuwa and Rs. 8 million for Batticaloa. We have targeted to construct 1,000 Dhamma schools this year. We will also construct 1,125 Chaitya within a year,” he said listing the expenses.

Apart from the money used for Buddhist religious establishments, the Minister said: “We are doing a project at the Thalawila Church for Rs. 50 million. We are also doing a huge project at the Madhu shrine. They are trying to give wrong interpretations regarding the work we do. We have received Cabinet approval to implement all these projects by State institutions.

“This will strengthen these government institutions. Based on the valuations of the District Officer all damaged mosques were assisted. If anyone wants they can see what has been done with the funds. We have not played out anything. We have spent every cent for the benefit of the Buddhasasana and other religions. Every penny has been accounted for and nothing has been misused,” he said.

(Source: Daily FT – By Ashwin Hemmathagama)