Billions of rupees were spent, during the former regime, on developing education infrastructure for schools throughout the country. Flagship programmes like the Mahindodaya Laboratories Project, initiated at an expense of Rs 66 billion, to encourage computer literacy were launched with funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
However, these projects fell under a cloud of criticism, for their apparent lack of transparency in the tender process. UNP MP Ajith Mannapperuma was quoted saying “This process, without calling for tenders, was done solely to extort public funds.”
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha even called for a detailed report on how many of the laboratories were actually built. He alleged that the report concluded that 75 labs were yet to be opened in the North Central Province alone.
We reached out to Mahinda Jayasinghe, General Secretary of Ceylon Teacher Services Union, to see what steps have been taken to investigate these allegations. He told us that complaints were made to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption during the time when Bandula Gunawardena was the Minister of Education, as well as complaints to the Anti-Corruption Secretariat and the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID).
He said that the complaints alleged that “when computers and accessories were purchased for the Mahindodaya Technological Labs, a fraud of more than 5875 billion had taken place.”
Jayasinghe admitted that despite the people of Sri Lanka giving a “mandate against the fraud and corruption by defeating the Rajapaksa Government” very little had been done in terms of fulfilling that mandate.
“We cannot see any acceptable form of action that has been taken on this matter”, he said.
So, have we forgotten?