“It has been months now but the Centre of Policy Alternatives (CPA) has chosen to remain silent on Colombo Telegraph’s allegation that the CPA has been less than transparent in its financial activities attracted the attention of many since it first surfaced says Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi.
“It is also important for genuine public intellectuals to distance themselves from these corrupted NGOs and work with people at the grassroots level to rebuild a tradition of civil activism.” he further said.
On October 10th Colombo Telegraph exposed various financial malpractices in the CPA. The CPA, in its official website, referring to this exposé, on the same day announced that its Executive Director, Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu was away and that a response would be given ‘in two weeks’. Dr Saravanamuttu returned to Sri Lanka on the 17th. The self-imposed deadline expired on 24th October.
On October 10th, based on CPA documents in our possession, Colombo Telegraph accused the CPA of billing for un-held workshops, engaging in double billing,’ i.e getting grants from two donors to do the same task and duplicating receipts, hotel bills and other bills to submit to donors (perhaps even submitting same bills to multiple donors), and hoodwinking donors by filing expenses under safe cost columns. Colombo Telegraph first asked the CPA to respond to certain questions based on our investigations on 8th of June, 2014.
Dr. Liyanage Amarakeerthi, Senior Lecturer at University of Peradeniya said today that the fact that some NGO big shots live luxurious is quite well-known and that fact alone has distanced many important public intellectuals from NGOs. The modus operandi of these NGOs includes the concepts such as ‘transparency’, ‘accountability’, ‘financial ethics’ and the like. But the NGOs seem to ignore those very concepts when they are used against themselves.
He said; there are NGOs doing some important work in the country. That work needs to continue. Arguably, the NGOs indirectly helped the Sri Lankan state during war years by taking care of many social issues while the state was busy waging war. Even during these ‘peace years’ the NGOs are taking upon themselves many tasks to which the state could have ideally attended. There are some NGOs that focus on critical civil society activities geared towards empowering citizens. For these very reasons, it is important that Sri Lankan citizens expect these NGOs to practice what they preach.
“Given this background the CPA’s freezing into silence is puzzling indeed. Big shots in the government spend luxurious lives that they would not have even imagined a few years ago. The prices of the president’s wristwatch, of his son’s cars, are rightfully questioned. Those factors are already causing the downfall of the regime. The shades of defeat are already visible on the face of the corrupted patriarch. It is also important that the citizens have access to the information of about the funding these NGO vallahs get in our name, the people.
“It is also important for genuine public intellectuals to distance themselves from these corrupted NGOs and work with people at the grassroots level to rebuild a tradition of civil activism. The re-discovery of genuine (unpaid) activism and participation in governance needs to be built into the movement of comment candidate and other social moments.”