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Mahapola Scholarship Fund saved by Govt. Bandula

18 October 2021 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


By Sandun A Jayasekera   

The government has saved the ‘Mahapola Scholarship Fund’, a brainchild of late UNP Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, which has ironically been destroyed during the so-called Yahapalana or UNP government, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.   

The ‘Mahapola Scholarship’ which has been providing financial relief to thousands of University students among low income families since 1978 will be renamed as ‘Lalith Athulathmudali Mahapola Scholarship Trust Fund’, (LAMSTF) in hounour of the father of the Mahapola Scholarship programme, late Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, he added.   

Minister Gunawardana told media that he had to engage in a big struggle to save the Mahapola Scholarship from high jacking by a group of rogue officials and politicians who had been instigated by the yahapalana government.   
“It would have been a crime if we let the former management of the Mahapola Scholarship to continue their plunder any further and did not change the management. Therefore, the government has decided to amend the ‘Mahapola Higher Education Mahapola Scholarship Act of 1978’ under the provisions of the ‘Public Property Act’ preventing any misappropriation or mismanagement of the fund and also to rename it as the LAMSTF as a homage to late Minister Lalith Atulathmudali as the Mahapola scholarship was his brain child,” he pointed out.   
Minister Gunawardana said the Mahapola Scholarship Fund was established in 1978 by late Minister Athulathmudali with a startup capital of Rs.10,000 from his pocket. The Development Lottery was established to continue funding the scholarship. Today, more than 15,000 undergraduates of our National University System receive bursary from the Mahapola Scholarship fund which has a Rs. 12 billion bank deposit today. This is in spite of recording Rs.20 billion loss under the previous management.   

Under the yahapalana government, Mahapola scholarship fund faced devastation to fatten the pockets of a few. The ownership of a 25 acre plot of land valued at several billion of rupees owned by the fund in Malabe changed hands and made it a private property illegally without the knowledge of the government, Education Ministry or any Parliamentary oversight committees like COPE or PAC, he said.   

“The board of management of the Mahapola Fund comprised highly respected professionals and academics like the Chairman of the UGC and University Professors. Chairman was the Chief Justice. Disgusted by the shocking events, the Chief Justice flatly refused to accept the chairmanship of the board of management of the Mahapola Scholarship despite my pleadings,’ Minister Gunawardana said.   

“That is why the government decided to amend the Mahapola Scholarship Act and make it fraud and mismanagement proof and thereby, no one, any establishment or political hierarchy would be able to exploit the Mahapola Fund for their personal benefits, Minister Gunawardana stressed.

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