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Renting a building to house the Agriculture Ministry AG reveals previous govt. ignored the procurement guidelines

3 February 2020 12:01 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Government parties had agreed to pay Rs. 1260 million for five years

By Tharindu Jayawardena   

The Auditor General has recommended a formal inquiry into getting a building on rent to house the Agriculture Ministry without following the procurement guidelines and spending Rs.1.5 billion in excess of the government’s valuation.   

Auditor General W.P.C. Wickramaratne recommended it on January 20, 2020 in his report submitted after a special auditing done by him regarding obtaining a private building on rent basis for the Ministry of Agriculture.   


He has found that the government parties had agreed to pay Rs. 1260 million for five years - Rs. 21 million monthly as rent regardless of the need to construct a building on one hectare land belonging to the Agriculture Ministry in Battaramulla, Colombo.   


The Auditor General said that the former Prime Minister had presented a Cabinet paper in spite of the fact that the Cabinet of ministers had decided to continue the affairs of the Agriculture Ministry in ‘Sethsiripaya’ but the clear and sufficient written reasons have not been presented by him for its insufficiency. The Auditor general’s department observed that this private building had been chosen without following the procedure mentioned in the procurement guidelines. It has been revealed in the auditing that the selected building had been constructed without any approval. This building has been chosen in spite of the fact that it was not a lawful construction. It is 33 feet higher than the approved height.   
According to the Auditor General’s Department, Rs. 315 million have been spent unnecessarily because this building was not occupied by the Agriculture ministry from the agreement date of obtaining this building from April 8, 2016 to June, 2017. During this period, a sum of Rs.60 per square foot has been charged as service charges and it accumulates to Rs.92.7 million for the specified time period.     


The Audit report revealed that, in spite of the fact that the furniture with high quality and value were available in the Agriculture Ministry at the usable stage, those items have been distributed to another government institution and steps have been taken to refurbish it by spending Rs. 114.6 million. According to the report, although it has been mentioned that the reason for leaving the former building by the ministry for providing accommodation to shift the offices of Parliamentary committee system and additional offices, the space has not been used for relevant activities until December 2019.   


The Auditor General’s department added that the owner of this building had agreed to the conditions of the agreement. But, he had acted against the procedure of the government’s procurement code and disregarded the orders of the government Accounts committee as well as the matters pointed out by the audit investigations.     

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