By Shamindra Ferdinando
Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa recently accused the Engineering Corporation of hiring a fleet of 33 vehicles at monthly cost of Rs. 80,000 each for political work.
Minister Premadasa said that such excesses wouldn’t happen under his stewardship under any circumstance. The minister was addressing representatives of the construction industry at the Institute for Construction Training and Development (ICTAD) on Jan. 31.
The National Housing Development Authority (NHDA), too, has hired 15 vehicles in support of the UPFA political project. Minister Premadasa said that political project implemented by the NHDA at the expense of funds available for construction of houses had been stopped.
Both Engineering Corporation as well as NHDA had been under the purview of National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP, during the UPFA administration.
The ICTAD, too, would be subjected to a comprehensive audit inquiry, Minister Premadasa said.
Premadasa alleged that funds had been spent without proper assessment or consultation. Having collected a large sum of money for Mahabhimani 2014 awards giving ceremony, the ministry had spent money without adhering to proper procedures. Various events managing firms had been paid huge sums of money to promote the image of some people, the minister said, adding that clandestine efforts were being made to cover up fraudulent activities.
Commenting on the delay in filling some key vacancies in institutions coming under his purview, Minister Premadasa said that he was still looking for efficient persons to take up challenging tasks. Key positions wouldn’t be filled with shis followers, the minister assured the gathering. While urging members of the construction industry to point out shortcomings or fraudulent activities without fear, the minister promised to inquire into their complaints.
Alleging that some ICTAD officials had been trying to cover up irregularities, Minister Premadasa warned that there shouldn’t be any waste, corruption or mismanagement at institutions coming under his purview.