Auditor General laments Forest Dept. inaction over jumbo issue | Daily News

Auditor General laments Forest Dept. inaction over jumbo issue

Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe.
Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe.

The Auditor General’s Department is working on a special report on the Forest Conservation Department’s inaction over conservation of elephants, Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe said.

Given the current rate of elephant deaths, Wijesinghe said the country is at the risk of losing its entire elephant population by 2048. He made this remark while addressing a press conference at the Information Department Auditorium, yesterday.

“The Forest Conservation Department officials have shirked their responsibilities. Despite the seriousness of the issue, they are fully complacent doing nothing. The Forest Conservator General is dutybound to take action to protect elephants,” he noted.

Commenting on the much talked-of resettlement of people in forest lands adjacent to the Wilpattu National Park, the auditor general said the FCD has clearly contravened the law, adding that his Department’s special audit report on Wilpattu has detailed many of those issues.

Detailing on special audit inquiries currently being undertaken by the Department, Wijesinghe said financial irregularities in the import of dairy cows have resulted in a loss running to billions of rupees to the government.

He said the report, in this regard, would be produced shortly. “Some farms have had to fix fans to keep those imported cattle as otherwise those creatures cannot survive in Sri Lankan climate,” he remarked.

He said that a special team has been appointed to look into the issues pertaining to the Sri Lankans working overseas. He said the officials were sent to cities such as Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait to look into the petitions received to the Department.

The auditor general however, regretted that no follow up action has been taken with regard to the special audit reports furnished by the Department on the rice importation scandal, construction of D.A. Rajapaksa tomb and the Coal Procurement tender.

He also lamented the inordinate delay of National Audit Bill, adding that his Department is similar to a ‘man thrown out to sea with his hands tied’ as he is unable to execute the powers vested on him under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution without the Act.

He pointed out the National Procurement Commission is undergoing a similar fate due to non-passage of the relevant Act in Parliament. While noting that most of the financial irregularities occur during the procurement process, Auditor General Wijesinghe stressed the need of Procurement Commission.

“At present, the Commission has only got the power to make procurement guidelines. Procurement guidelines are not admissible before the law. Therefore, those cannot be enforced in Sri Lanka,” he commented. 



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