PM calls for special Police report | Daily News


Foreign funds for Batticaloa higher educational institute

PM calls for special Police report

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for a special report from the Police on the foreign funds received by four local bank accounts to build the controversial higher educational institute in Batticaloa.

Rs. 3,600 million had been channelled to four local bank accounts by a private Foundation in Saudi Arabia to build the ‘Sharia University’.

UNP MP Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, who is the Chairman of Subcommittee on Higher Education of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education and Human Resources Development, said the four bank accounts belong to Hira Foundation and three companies.

He said Eastern Province Governor M.L. A.M.Hisbullah and his son are on the Director Boards of all these companies and the Foundation.

Speaking to the Daily News, Prof Marasinghe said the Subcommittee decided to present a detailed report to Parliament within this month giving their recommendations as to how the controversy surrounding the Batticaloa University should be solved.

“You cannot call it a University or even a higher educational institute as no Government approval has been received. A private company has built buildings with the intention of starting a higher educational institute. The Subcommittee decided that the review process of the application of this company to set up a non-state university must be halted. We propose to apply public-private partnership model like the NSBM and Kotelawala Defence University to it and conduct courses relevant to tourism sector and industrial training in it,” he said.

Prof. Marasinghe said a land belonging to the Mahaweli Development Authority has been leased for a period of 30 years for the foreign funded investment. “In addition to 35 acres obtained in the beginning, there are claims that 50 more acres were added to it later. We directed the Survey General to survey the land within two weeks to determine the accurate extent of land being utilized,” he added. Prof. Marasinghe said the Subcommittee members would make an inspection tour of the construction site in Batticaloa next week.

The Subcommittee on Education chaired by Prof. Marasinghe convened a special meeting in Parliament on Thursday to discuss matters pertaining to the ‘Batticaloa University’ which is under construction.

Senior officials of the Mahaweli Development Authority, Higher Education Ministry, Lands Ministry, Board of Investments, Bank of Ceylon and Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission, the Surveyor General, the Company Registrar, Batticaloa District Secretary and Divisional Secretary had been summoned for the meeting.

Prof. Marasinghe said relevant documents pertaining to the issue had been collected from the above institutions and those were distributed among the members to study.

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has also decided to commence a special investigation into the ‘Batticaloa University’. COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti told the Daily News that all parties relevant to the project including the University Grants Commission and Board of Investments have been summoned to Parliament on May 21.

He said the Auditor General has been asked to compile a basic report in to the project, adding that the COPE investigations would be based on his findings. He said political involvement in this project, how it was started, how the lands were released and the ownership of the Foundation would come under investigation of the COPE. 

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