|Wednesday, 28 May 2003|
In the aftermath of the take over by President Chandrika Kumaratunga of the functions of the Development Lottery Board (DLB), Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake yesterday appealed to the President to release the due share of the profits with the arrears of over one billion to the Mahapola Trust Fund so that the fate of the remaining 7,000 odd students who constitute the second batch of undergraduates this year would not be affected.
While addressing about 1,000 school prefects at a Mahapola Nena Udana leadership-training programme held at Visaka Vidyalaya, Karunanayake urged the President to forget all differences and help continue the great causes of the Mahapola Trust Fund to assist youth in their educational needs.
"The Mahapola is not a political project. It plays a great role on behalf of the young people of this country. So we appeal to the President to set aside all differences and release our due share from the Development Lottery to develop this great concept further" the Minister said.
He further said that it was his duty to remind the President that the Mahapola has a 50% share of the DLB, which was put as seed capital in its initiation.
The Minister further said that the reduction of funds from the DLB would jeopardise the new projects initiated by the Mahapola Board of Management to benefit youth who are not qualified for universities, including English and tertiary education projects.
The Mahapola Trust Fund was established in 1981 by a Parliament Act. And it provides about 7,000 new scholarships per annum, which is more than 80% of the annual university intake. Since 1997 the President's Fund has failed to remit the total due share out of the profit to the scholarship fund which amounts to Rs. 706.8 million in capital and a further Rs. 295 million as interest, accruing over the years.
Due to this situation the Mahapola Trust Fund could not be able to increase the scholarship grant or the number of new scholarships for the past four academic years. The main beneficiaries of the Mahapola grant are the undergraduates whose family income does not exceed Rs. 12,000 per month, the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Affairs said.
Produced by Lake House