The government returned more than two billion rupees worth of underutilized foreign aid given to the Health Ministry during the past three years, the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts has revealed.
Of this massive amount, Rs. 234 million accounting for 31 percent of the total capital aid received in 2003, was returned to donor countries in 2004, while in the following year Rs. 1,048 million was returned. Last year, more than 75 percent of such aid accounting for Rs. 953 million had been underutilized by the ministry. However, Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva denied allegations of large underutilized funds being sent back to donor countries.
`We have not received huge donations. I am yet to receive the Committee report. If they make any allegation, full details such as the donor countries and the amount received, should be included,` he said adding that the allegations were a `blatant lie.` Meanwhile, the committee also investigated frauds into the purchase of `spinal needles` for the Health Ministry.
JVP MP, Premasiri Manage presiding over the meetings, said the Ministry had purchased 1,650 units of these needles at Rs.710 each in 2003, while the actual market price at the time was Rs.185. `They have perpetrated this fraud deviating from the usual tender procedure. Besides, another 350 units were bought at Rs.645 each,` he said.
Mr.Manage said they also found startling details about another illegal transaction where another variety of injections were purchased at Rs. 5000 per unit despite the real market value being Rs. 2800.
He said 670 units had been bought in this manner violating the tender procedure.