By Nirmala Kannangara
The Acting Director General of the National Gem and Jewellery Authority (NGJA) Ajith Perera is facing severe criticism for concealing the ‘Jewels Sri Lanka 2010’ exhibition file from government auditors for a further audit query.
Highly reliable NGJA sources told The Sunday Leader on the basis of anonymity that the exhibition file, which contained details of illegal financial deals carried out in the run-up to the exhibition was in the Acting Director General’s custody, though he now claimed that it had gone missing.
The sources said that the Auditor General’s Department had initiated an audit query following the exposé on financial irregularities at the ‘Jewels Sri Lanka 2010’ exhibition.
Before the auditors had concluded their investigation, Perera retrieved the offending file through a Board decision, claiming that he had to make some payments. Although these were made, Perera did not return the file to the auditors. When they requested for it, he claimed that the file went missing, sources said.
According to them, this file contains details of NGJA fund misuse.
“This file was in Perera’s possession, although it should have been with the finance department. So how could he now claim that he does not know what has happened to it? This clearly shows that Perera wants to obstruct the auditors from further query,” added the sources.
Meanwhile, Government Auditor Ms. Ihalagama when contacted said they needed the file to carry out the 2011 audits.
Ihalagama said though the 2010 audits had been completed, the file was needed for this year’s audit, since most of the payments for the exhibition were made in 2011. She added that if the file was missing, the NGJA would have to inform them as such. Unless someone from within the premises had removed the file, it was not possible for it to go missing, the Government auditor observed.
Acting Director General of the NGJA, Ajith Perera when contacted said that the file was in the Chief Accountant’s possession. “I am not responsible for the file as it was in the Chief Accountant’s (CA) custody. It was the CA who told me about this. The matter has now been brought to the Chairman’s notice as well. An internal audit query has been initiated to find out how the file went missing,” Perera said. However Chief Accountant NGJA Nalini Perera denied the Director General’s allegations. She said that though the file was brought to her whenever payments had to be made, it was never exclusively in her custody. She therefore said she was absolved of responsibility.