COPE instructs to utilize Kalpitiya islands for tourism

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –The Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), Prof. Charitha Herath, recently informed the Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Development Authority to prepare an expeditious program to utilize the 12 islands under the Tourism Development Authority in the Kalpitiya area for tourism.

It was revealed that although an investor in 2011 had applied for 5 of the 12 islands which are 2,055 acres, it had been delayed due to the inability to identify a proper institution to obtain approval for his Water Bungalows project.

The COPE Chairman, pointing out that the delay in a project for 10 years due to the inability to give approval to this investor who already has such hotels in the Maldives is an obstacle to the development of the tourism industry as well as the development of the country, said immediate action should be taken for this.

The COPE Chairman stressed the need to utilize these beautiful islands for tourism.

As the Cabinet approval has been obtained for the project, Prof. Herath informed the Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism S. Hettiarachchi and Tourism Development Authority Chairperson Kimarli Fernando to appoint a steering committee with all relevant parties such as the Marine Environment Protection Authority, Central Environmental Authority, North Western Provincial Council, Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department and implement a special project within a strong legal framework.

These facts were revealed at a meeting of the COPE Committee chaired by Prof. Charitha Herath recently (26) to examine the Auditor General’s Reports for the years 2018 and 2019 and the current performance of the Tourism Development Authority.

The COPE meeting also focused attention on the audit observation that out of the Rs. 29 million spent on the renovation of the Kataragama Tourist Resort few years ago, Rs. 11 million has been paid for work not done. It was also revealed that the value of this Rs.11 million has been estimated at Rs. 4.8 million by a re-appointed expert committee.

While a committee appointed through the Ministry of Public Administration has recommended that the Attorney General conduct investigations into the incident and punish the culprits, no action has been taken so far, the COPE noted.

Instead, only a warning letter had been issued to the officer involved in the incident, the Auditor General revealed and the COPE expressed its strong displeasure in this regard.

The COPE chairman pointed out that this was not a criticism of the existing management but a responsibility of government agencies to change this long-standing system and take appropriate action on audit observations and recommendations.

State Minister Susil Premajayantha, Members of Parliament Rauf Hakeem, Jagath Pushpakumara, Nalin Bandara, SM Marikkar, Madura Withanage, Premnath C Dolawatte and officials of the Tourism Development Authority were also present on the occasion.

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