COPE reveals National Youth Services Council’s bid to hinder audit and overspending for ‘Yovun Pura’ program

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – It was disclosed at a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that Rs 80 million over the estimated expenditure of Rs. 350 million has been spent for ‘Yowun Pura’ or ‘The City of Youth’ program in 2018 and 2019.

At the COPE meeting held on Tuesday (16), COPE Chairman (Prof.) Charitha Herath emphasized that the cooperation between institutions is a key factor for the future progress of the state.

“The Secretary to the Ministry of Youth & Sports and the Chairmen of the National Youth Services Council and the Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. should co-operate. In failure to do so, it would be a serious obstacle to the survival of the state,” the COPE chairman stressed.

The COPE Chairman also instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Youth & Sports, Anuradha Wijekoon, to take immediate action against officials who are found to be negligent and misbehaving.

The Committee also noted that the Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. had not prepared a consolidated plan since 2017. The Committee also questioned the company for not preparing an action plan.

The Chairman of the Committee Prof. Charitha Herath stated that there is a delay in the submission of the Annual Reports of the National Youth Services Council to Parliament and also questioned the non-submission of the Annual Reports of the Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. since 2015. The Committee also directed the Ministry of Youth & Sports to submit all such reports to Parliament expeditiously.

Although it was decided to construct the Nilwala Youth Park in Matara by a Cabinet decision, the Committee also paid special attention to the fact that no feasibility study has been carried out in that regard. The Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational Training paid Rs. 142,810,543 as compensation and interest to the relevant land owners and Rs. 7,657,349 as advisory fees to the National Youth Services Council as at 31st December 2014.

It was revealed at the meeting that although the total estimated cost for the ‘Yowun Pura’ program held in 2018 and 2019 was Rs. 350 million, Rs. 80,560,914 has been spent exceeding the estimated cost. He further stated that apart from the procurement process in obtaining 02 warehouses required for the 2019 program on lease basis, the number of days ordered was exceeded. The total amount paid was an additional amount of Rs. 2,227,400. The Committee also observed that Rs. 1,932,500 had been paid for 1773 T-shirts after the date of the program without the recommendation of the Technical Committee for distribution to the youth who participated in the Youth National Program held in 2016.

It was also revealed at this Committee meeting that according to the report of the Survey Board, it had been recommended to remove 268,000 leaflets which cost Rs. 1,822,400 to be printed in the year 2017.

Although Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. was established in 1981 with over 98% shareholding in the National Youth Services Council, it was disclosed at the Committee meeting those joint financial statements had not been prepared.

Also, the National Youth Services Council had carried out work worth Rs. 417 million in the years 2018, 2019 and 2020 through the Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Instructions pertaining to the non-disclosure of matters related to the institution to outside parties by way of an Internal Circular issued by the Chairman of the National Youth Services Council and the Sri Lanka Youth Services Pvt. Ltd. to the Heads of Divisions on 08th October 2021 was also revealed at the COPE Committee. The Committee pointed out that it hindered the work of the National Audit Office and the Ministry of Youth & Sports.

Even before the basic facilities for the launch of the Cisco Computer Networking Course to be launched by the National Youth Services Council, the Committee questioned the officials of the National Youth Services Council regarding the purchase of equipment on July 29th, 2021 at a cost of Rs. 15,708,178.

Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, State Minister Susil Premajayantha, Members of Parliament Madhura Withanage, Premnath C. Dolawatte and a number of officials were present at the committee meeting.

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