Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to investigate the corruption of the current administration yesterday ordered the Audit Division of Rural Economic Development Ministry to submit all the documents regarding the audit which they had conducted when importing 20,000 milch cows from Australia and New Zealand.
Providing Evidence, Chief Auditor of the Ministry Dhammika Priyani Pathirana informed the Commission that after the first shipment of milch cows the Ministry had conducted an audit inquiry and they had inspected the farms.
“During this first audit inquiry we had found a farm which had been located in Peradeniya but when we were having field visits we were found that there was no such a farm established in that area. According to the documents in the Ministry, we observed that the Ministry has distributed 20 milch cows from the first batch to the particular farm,” she said.
When commissioners questioned the action taken by the audit division after observing such matters, the witness said that she has inquired the matter from Project Director Dr. Sagarika Sumanasekara.
“According to the letter sent by the Project Director in 2017, the Ministry had distributed a batch of 20 milch cows to Devinda Farm in Peradeniya, but after the distribution, the owner of the farm informed the Ministry that there was a pressure by people around the farm not to continue it. Accordingly, the owner has handed over his cows to Hingurana Dairy farm in Matale,” she said.
The commissioners then questioned the witness that were there any guidelines to the owner who could decide his own and distribute the cows to another farm if there were any difficulties. Responding to the question, the witness said that the owners have to obtain the approval from the Ministry before they could take such a step.
The witness also said that there was no approval obtained by the owner of the Devinda Farm in Peradeniya before giving his cows to another farm. “In the Ministry documents, there was only a letter sent by Project Director Dr. Sagarika Sumanasekara that the particular owner had handed over his cows to a farm in Matale,” she said.
Accordingly, the commissioners observed that there could be some management errors when distributing these cows and ordered the audit division to submit all the documents related to the audit inquiry, which the Ministry has conducted during the distribution of cows. (Yoshitha Perera)