Ashu Marasinghe calls for state takeover | Daily News

Batticaloa Campus controversy

Ashu Marasinghe calls for state takeover

UNP MP and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Higher Education under the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education and Human Resources Development, Ashu Marasinghe said it is best that Batticaloa Campus Pvt. Ltd. is converted into a state university.

Speaking at a media briefing at Temple Trees yesterday, Parliamentarian Marasinghe said there is no institution named ‘Sharia University’. The said institution registered as ‘Batticaloa Campus Pvt. Ltd’ is not registered with the University Grants Commission (UGC) or the Higher Education Ministry.

“Batticaloa Campus cannot operate as a university, but as a big investment has been made, the best option to resolve this matter positively is to convert it into a state university once the investigations have been completed,” he said.

“Around 35 acres of land was leased to the Hira Foundation for the setting up of a rural training centre in 2013 for an estimated lease of Rs. 491,200 per year. In 2018, the amount was increased to Rs. 547,200 per year. The taxes per acre amount to around Rs. 14,000 to15,000 per acre. However, the taxes for this land have not been paid from 2013 until 2017. Then, in 2018, it was paid.”

He noted that in the application, in one place it says the facility is a rural training centre and in another place, it says the facility is an engineering and technological university.

“We looked into the history of the Hira Foundation and discovered that it was registered on December 10, 2014, as a limited liability company. The address is 10/18, Lake Drive Colombo 8. The directors of this Hira Foundation are Mahmood Lebbe Alim Muhammed Hizbullah and Ahamed Hiras Hizbullah.”

“On July 3, 2015, they had written to the then Higher Education Minister Sarath Amunugama to grant them approval to operate this facility as a higher education establishment. The Higher Education Ministry started investigating the project August 3, 2015. However, up to date no approval whatsoever has been given,” Marasinghe said.

“The project was initially registered as the ‘Batticaloa Campus College Pvt. Ltd.’, but later in February 29, 2016, the name was changed to ‘Batticaloa Campus Pvt Ltd’. The directors of the Hira Foundation are same directors of the Batticaloa Campus Pvt Ltd.”

“The main issue is they had said the Rs. 3,600 million project was being funded by a foreign investor. At one point, they claimed it was funded by aid and later they said it was funded by an interest-free loan to the Hira Foundation,” the UNP Parliamentarian said.

“The Hira Foundation has 90 percent of shares in Batticaloa Campus Pvt Ltd. Mahmood Lebbe Alim Muhammed Hizbullah has 10 percent.”

“This is where the confusion set in, as the profits of this institution goes to the Hira Foundation and Mahmood Lebbe Alim Muhammed Hizbullah, whereas he and Ahamed Hiras Hizbullah are also directors of the Hira Foundation.” Hence, the process is at a point where they have been asked to explain the connection between Batticaloa Campus Pvt Ltd and the Hira Foundation, he explained.

The MP said that upon investigation, they found that all the funds from overseas had been received by the Bank of Ceylon Super Grade Branch in Colombo 3 to the account of Batticaloa Campus Pvt Ltd.

“We are investigating why Hira Foundation was given shares at Batticaloa Campus Pvt Ltd. That is why we have yet not given them any approval and they cannot be called a university,” he said.

One of the Directors of the Hira Foundation is Mahmood Lebbe Alim Muhammed Hizbullah, who is the Eastern Province Governor.

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