The Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE) disclosed to Parliament yesterday corruption and malpractice had risen to dizzy heights in 26 state institutions including the Bank of Ceylon, the Ceylon Electricity Board, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board.
Presenting the report to the House, COPE Chairman Wijeyadasa Rajapakse said Bank of Ceylon a Foreign Employee A.R. Bernard who was said to be a banking specialist had received Rs. 127 million as his pay for four years.
Mr. Rajapakse said COPE believed the colossal amount paid was a wastage as the bank`s performance had deteroritated despite expertise obtained from him.
He said the market share of deposits of the bank had declined from 22.89% to 19% by the time this so-called foreign expert resigned.
In addition, he said, the market share of advances had also declined from 24 percent to 12 per cent during his period.
Mr. Rajapakse, a top lawyer and SLFP MP said the bank had bought its London branch at a cost of one million sterling pounds.
Later, it had been sold for 200,000 sterling pounds incurring heavy losses, during the time of Sumi Munasinghe as the chairman. The revenue of the bank has also declined from 74% to 56 percent.
He said the BOC had given a loan of Rs. 314 million to a certain company but the value of securities for it was Rs. 300 million.
The amount of non-performing loans granted by the bank was Rs. 13 billion, COPE said.
Corruption and fraud reign in the CEB where allegations had been made against 74 officials in the executive grade, Mr. Rajapakse said.
He said the Deputy General Manager of the CEB had been appointed as the head of tender boards though he was facing disciplinary inquiries.
`There is serious suspicion about these tender dealings as a result,` Mr. Rajapakse said.
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He said there were also serious allegations regarding dealings of fixing electricity meters and light posts.
`At most of these state bodies, the Internal Audit Divisions have been crippled so that malpractice can be carried out easily. In fact, those divisions have completely been defunct,` he said.
The COPE Chief said the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation was another monster devouring public funds.
He said the Lanka India Oil Company (LIOC) had acquired 58 filling stations by creeping through loopholes in the agreement with the CPC to lease 100 stations countrywide.Mr. Rajapakse pointed out that Lanka Marine Service Ltd., a subsidiary company attached to the CPC, had been sold at one billion rupees.
`There had been a lot of corruption in this transaction. The real value of this company is Rs. 2.4billion, ` Mr. Rajapakse said.
Apart from that, a land of 8.2 acres in extent adjoining the harbour had been sold for Rs. 64 million through the PERC with the signature of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
`In this transaction, there is a loss of over Rs. 65 billion. This amount is one-seventh or eighth of our national revenue,` he said.
At the National Water Supplies and Drainage Board, there was a wastage of 51 percent of running water.
`The highest water wastage in the Asian region is reported in Sri Lanka. In Japan, this rate is only seven percent,` he said.
The entire loss suffered by the government due to corruption in these institutions amounts to a staggering Rs 150 billion, Mr. Rajapakse said.
These institutions include Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Sri Jayawardene pura Hospital, Public Enterprise Reform Commission, Urban Development Authority, Milco Ltd,
Some private companies are indebted Rs 7000 million to the Central Bank. The Mercantile Ltd has evaded payment of Rs 5780 million to the bank. The Central Bank Governor has agreed to submit a report on the controversial Pyramid scandal.
Mr. Rajapaksa said they had to fight such massive corruption in government institutions while President Mahinda Rajapaksa was compelled to fight terrorism.