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Valuable funds misappropriated in SL’s 100,000 tasks initiative

As the government grapples with massive budget deficits and perilously high debt, its recent programmes to improve the living standards of the people have become a burden to the Treasury due to a misuse of funds.

The ambitious island-wide development drive of 100,000 tasks initiative launched by former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa this year to improve the living standard of villagers has become a burden for the Treasury as a result of mishandling of funds and high spending without any financial records, an internal audit query revealed.

Massive sums of money are being defrauded by ruling party politicians appointed as members of pradeshiya sabhas in the planning and implementing of special tasks in rural areas by hoodwinking divisional secretaries and officials.

These fraudulent activities and pilfering of money granted for the programme in respective areas have been brought to the notice in writing to high officials including divisional secretaries, several members of Grama Niladhari and Samurdhi associations disclosed.

According to the internal audit report, necessary administration and financial procedures have not been followed as it was overruled by higher political authority.

Financial records and accounts of spending for these projects are missing and it has become a difficult task for the Finance Ministry to make a correct assessment of the amount of money spent from the 2022 budgetary allocation of Rs. 85 billion, a senior official said.

These 100,000 tasks initiative is now being implemented in 14,021 Grama Niladhari areas and each of these areas would carry out at least one project, or several multiple projects depending on the needs of the region.

According to plans, these projects could differ from livelihood support to small infrastructure projects to help uplift the living standard of these communities in those areas.

Moreover, these projects are also aimed at aiding current national issues such as food security, aiding the overall Sri Lankan community. Other projects aimed at solving the food security issue also include the promotion of home gardens for citizens to take control of their personal food security.

Under the initiative, 14,000 home shops are to be set up as one outlet each in all villages at Grama Niladhari divisions country-wide with the help of seed capital of Rs, 15 billion in total provided by the government by indirectly making use of an Indian credit line.

These home shops will fulfill the needs of food items and non food products, such as clothing and household items because villagers in rural areas had to travel to nearby towns located very far from their villages to buy their requirements from city groceries.

Although a part of money has already been allocated to this project, not a single home shop has been opened in rural areas, several Grama Niladharis confirmed.

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