State Universities controversial transactions exposed by COPE

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By Rose Kenny

The findings of the investigations on State Universities and Higher Education Institutions came to light in parliament yesterday when the fourth report of the State Enterprise Commission (CoPE) was presented to the parliament. The report highlights controversial transactions and decisions taken at 17 state universities from 17 March 2017 to 4 April 2018, which was also noted by the general auditor.

JVP-MP Sunil Handunnnetti moving the CoPE report in parliament, said that CoPE had discussed in depth the observations that were disclosed about the university system of Sri Lanka from the audits carried out on several occasions. Although the CoPE has issued directives and recommendations from time to time to resolve these issues, the level of compliance to these directives and recommendations is not satisfactory.

He noted that unlike on past instances, this report is exclusively on  state universities presented together along with the report from Auditor General. “We have observed a gradual decline of undergraduate intake to universities. For example, 45% of the applicants are admitted to universities in 2013-14. But 38.7% applicants are admitted in 2017-18,” he said.

According to Handunnetti, the funds found in bank accounts maintained by state universities including the fixed deposits and a considerable amount of university funds are held in current accounts unnecessarily. There are 794 funds totalling Rs.5,666 million maintained by 15 state universities. In order to receive interest, there are investments made in fixed deposits worth Rs.14,000 million. These are against the missions of universities. The funds are meant for the use of students and  lecturers. Keeping money in accounts will not help to increase the number of student intake,” said MP Handunnetti.