Rupavahini dues come under COPE fire
* Rs. 42 mn for political ads, Rs. 598 mn commercial credit irrecoverable July 18, 2012, 10:53 pm
* Raging debate on CSN network
By Ravi Ladduwahetty
The outstanding dues unrecovered by the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation came under heavy fire at the meeting of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) yesterday, political sources told The Island last night.
The meeting which was explosive in nature revealed that a total of Rs. 42 million was unrecovered from political advertisements provided only to the government and its political allies and a further Rs. 596 million due to the National Television channel for advertisements given on the basis of commercial credit but unrecovered over the last seven years, these sources said.
UNP MPs Ravi Karunanayake and Eran Wickremaratne and DNA MP Arjuna Ranatunga had demanded to know on what basis funds were doled out for free advertisements for political parties supporting the government, where Rs. 17 million worth of advertising was given to the United People’s Freedom Alliance, another Rs. 8 million to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, and Rs. 493,000 to the Jathika Hela Urumaya, another constituent party of the government. It was also revealed that another Rs. 16 million worth of advertising had been given to present UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera when he was the Treasurer of the SLFP!
It had also been revealed that the total due was Rs. 42,640,586 but only an abysmal Rs. 148,370 had been recovered, leaving an unrecovered amount of Rs.42,427,215.
Government rankers- Coconut Industries Minister Jagath Pushpakumara, Deputy Petroleum Minister Sarana Gunwardena, Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva and Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna bellowed that these funds should be written off as bad debts to which Karunanayake, Ranatunga and Wickremaratne demanded as to who was responsible for authorizing unpaid advertising and what measures should be taken to recover those unpaid amounts.
Karunanayake and Ranatunga had later demanded that even if those dues were to be written off as bad debts, that COPE should be furnished with a report as to who authorized the free advertising and for whom. They demanded that Sri Lanka Rupavahini Chairman Mohan Samaranayake furnish a detailed report within a fortnight, sources said.
One of the other institutions which came under stringent criticism was the new Carlton Sports Network . Ranatunga said that though the policy of the government was to protect State institutions, now the government was providing all the national sports events and the Test Cricket match coverage to CSN network, sources said.
Then Ministers Jagath Pushpakumara, Lasantha Alagiyawanna and Sarana Gunawardena, argued that there was nothing wrong in providing television rights to the private sector and that other television channels could also be given similar rights.
Ranatunga said: "This is indeed a very funny and a paradoxical situation. In one breath, the government says that state institutions should be protected under the Mahinda Chinthanaya and they should not be privatized, but, which is now limited to a book! On the other hand, what was deemed rightfully, the property of the government is now given to the private sector.
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Last Updated May 19 2013 | 08:24 pm