By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
The Secretary to the Ministry of Sports Anuradha Wijekoon has been instructed by the Parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) to initiate legal action against members of the previous Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Executive Committee if they are found guilty of irregularities.
Issuing a statement on Tuesday’s COPE hearing, the parliament media unit stated that the committee’s Chairman Prof. Charitha Herath had also instructed the Ministry Secretary to conduct an inquiry and submit its findings within three months.
Prof. Herath stated that the assistance of the Attorney General could be obtained for this purpose.
It was reported on Wednesday that there had been an outlay of Rs 60 million by SLC for the purchase of rollers for cricket clubs, which the Auditor General had highlighted as “suspicious”, with the distribution of the rollers to clubs possibly done with the intention of buying votes for the upcoming SLC election.
“The COPE chairman Herath had pointed out that the reason for the massive collapse of cricket in the country was not the fault of the players but the weaknesses of the cricket administration,” the statement released yesterday read.
The statement also said, “It has been revealed that 123 out of the 162 approved cadre of Sri Lanka Cricket are contract positions which is a serious question. The Committee also pointed out that the posts of Head of Finance, Legal Officer, Information Technology Officer and Internal Auditor should be permanent positions.”
“The Committee questioned the non-recovery of Rs. 29 million in revenue due for sponsorship of the South Africa-Sri Lanka Cricket tour in 2018 and the Executive Officer of SLC Ashley de Silva informed the Committee [that the] CID has commenced an investigation into the matter. It was revealed at the meeting that the money had been deposited to an American [account identified as] ‘Diamond Channel’ and that investigations were focused on how it happened.”
“It was further revealed at the meeting that Rs. 30 million has been spent to take legal action against former head coach of Sri Lanka Cricket Chandika Hathurusinghe due to the shortcomings of his agreement,” the statement also read.
COPE also highlighted the expenditure into a new cricket ground in Polonnaruwa, despite SLC not owning the title deed for the land that was used.
“Although Rs. 132 million has been spent for the construction of a National Cricket Stadium and a Multi-Sports Complex in the Hingurakgoda area in Polonnaruwa, the Committee paid special attention to the fact that a title deed has not yet been obtained for the relevant land. The committee directed the Ministry of Sports to take immediate action to resolve the issue,” the statement also said.
It was reported on Wednesday that the required archaeological approvals had not been received by SLC before work on the stadium began, considering its proximity to archaeological sites.
Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa last week named a five-member management committee to run SLC until elections are conducted on May 20, and since the term of the SLC Ex-Co had expired on Monday, several former officials of the SLC Ex-Co were unable to attend the meeting as their tenure had ended.