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 Post subject: Ministry Secretary involved in 130 million fertilizer fraud
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 6:12 am 
Ministry Secretary involved in 130 million fertilizer fraud
Alleged fertiliser fraud: evidence against top officials

By Gihan de Chickera and Kelum Bandara
@ DM / 23 June 2006


The special committee set up to investigate the Rs. 130 million fertilizer fraud has found evidence that certain officials of the Agriculture Development Ministry, including its Secretary Tissa Warnasuriya were allegedly responsible for the fraud.

Parliament was informed yesterday of these findings by Leader of the House Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva during the adjournment debate on the fertilizer subsidy.

The Minister said the Government does not approve corruption and had immediately appointed a high level committee to investigate the alleged fertilizer racket involving Ministry officials.

He said that the Committee recorded evidence from relevant persons for 13 consecutive days, and submitted a 40-page report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on June 15.

The Committee had found that Authorized Officer of Colombo Commercial Fertilizers Chanaka Benjamin was responsible for putting in place the groundwork for the fraud.

Ministry Additional Secretary Gunatilake had been accused of dereliction of duty, based on the Committee’s findings, Minister de Silva said.

Citing the Committee recommendations, Mr. de Silva said it was unbelievable that Mr. Warnasuriya, who is also the Chief Accounting Officer at the Ministry, was responsible for approving the tender for the transaction.

He said it is now up to the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take action against all these officials.

“According to the Establishment Code, there is a procedure to take action against Government officials. We have no power to take action against them however much we would desire it. Those who level allegations against us for not taking appropriate action obviously lack experience in administration,” he said.

He said the Government had now fulfilled its maximum obligations on the matter, leaving the PSC to take further action on it.

Commenting on the fertilizer subsidy, the minister pledged the Government would continue to grant it despite any economic problems which may be encountered in the future.

He said the country recorded a bumper paddy harvest during the last season, which eventually led to the present purchasing process crisis.

No government has been able to fulfill its obligations within six months, the minister said.


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