Mystery purchase of huge rice stock caused Rs 15 bn. loss

by Saman Indrajith


An investigation by parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) has found that government coffers have suffered a loss of 15 billion rupees due to Sathosa importing rice without cabinet approval during the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa government, Parliament was told yesterday.

Chairman of the COPE, JVP Parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti tabling a report of a probe said the auditor general had noted that Cabinet had given approval to import 50,000 metric tonnes of rice to face scarcity in the market. The permission was granted to import rice stock of 5,000 tonnes "But SATHOSA had imported a haul of 257,559 mt of rice," said Handunetti. "This import had contributed to the breakdown of the agrarian economy in the country". 

According to the Auditor General the loss was Rs 15.6 billion, Handunnetti said adding that the importing took place in 2014 and 2015.

Leader of the House and Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella got up and asked which government was in power.

Handunnetti said it was during the previous government. 

"Then you have to tell that it has been committed during the previous regime," Minister Kiriella said. 

Minister also moved that the report be printed. 

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