30 June, 2022


CPA’s ‘Two Weeks’ Is Made Of 16 Days (And Counting): Troubled NGO Maintains Silence On Damning Charges

Four months after the Colombo Telegraph first questioned dubious financial practices in the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and 16 days after pledging in its website to respond to related and far more serious charges ‘within two weeks,’ the CPA remains silent.

On October 10th Colombo Telegraph exposed various financial malpractices in the CPA. The CPA, in its official website, referring to this exposé, 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 day before yesterday (24th). Two more day has passed. The CPA is yet to respond.

Sara CPA

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.

On the same day ( October 10th)  the CPA website said; “The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is aware of an article in the Colombo Telegraph website titled ‘Exposé: Centre For Policy Alternatives Defrauded And Hoodwinked Donors’ published on 10 October 2014. The article contains a number of allegations against the organisation and certain members of the staff. As the Executive Director is travelling on work, CPA will post a response to these allegations on his return to Sri Lanka in the next two weeks.”

Colombo Telegraph first asked the CPA to respond to certain questions based on our investigations on 8th of June, 2014.  The CPA, after exchanging a few emails finally said: “We consider further communication with you futile and reiterate our position that these allegations are clearly mala fide’.”

We responded as follows:

“It is of course your prerogative to communicate or refuse to do so, but there are troubling questions that remain.

“Can you tell us which of our allegations are mala fide?

“Can you tell us whether the CPA and the International Federation of Journalists together have submitted proposals to UNESCO and EU to do a “Public Service Broadcasting” campaign/training or not?

“If “yes” can you tell us what workshops were, for whom and where they were held?

How many workshops were held using UNESCO funding and how many workshops under EU funding?

“Since both EU and UNESCO funded workshops and certain activities, can tell us how much monies were given by both funders?

“Contrary to your claim that the “CPA paid the Galle Face Hotel liquor bill”, Sasha Ekanayake (the Unit coordinator at that time) said CPA submitted a bill to EU as drinks and food “Since (we) can’t charge liquor, the CPA submitted a different bill to CPA”. This means the CPA got a different bill from Galle Face Hotel instead of submitting the original bill (a copy of which I sent to you).  Would you agree?

“As we said before it’s not our duty to provide you documents. As you have implied in your last email, you have access to organization’s document so please check them.

“But don’t assume that we don’t have documents, we have all narrative reports which CPA submitted to the donors or a file of original bills, which the CPA did not submit to the donors.

“Just so you know, all documents are authentic and we can prove this if necessary.”

These are questions and comments that are based on damning documentary evidence in the possession of the Colombo Telegraph. The Colombo Telegraph finds it appalling that a strong advocate of checks and balances, accountability and transparency such as the CPA remains silent on the allegations.

Related posts;

Nirmal Condemns Hypocrisy Of “NGO Tribe”

CPA’s Powerful ED Dr. Sara Is Travelling, CPA Says It Needs Two Weeks To Respond

Exposé: Centre For Policy Alternatives Defrauded And Hoodwinked Donors

CPA Hattotuwa Must Answer Instead Of Dodging And Misleading

Response To Article In Colombo Telegraph

Exposed: Rights Advocacy A Gateway To Lavish Lifestyles

CPA Removes Groundviews Editor From ‘Senior Staff’

‘Dhanapala Must Choose’ Says Saravanamuttu

Sara Says ‘Dhanapala – WebBlocking’ Issue Needs To Be Resolved Within The Framework Of Good Governance

How Sunanda Robbed Money And Rs 30.9 million Unaudited FMM

Sunanda Saga, States Of Denial And NGO Accountability

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu is the man who asked Jayantha Dhanapala to act within the framework of good corporate governance not long ago. Is it good corporate governance for him to dodge relevant questions raised by CT on the financial affairs of CPA headed by him?

    People like Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu seem to enjoy foreign travels,good living and various other perks thanks to foreign donors.Who pays for these foreign travels? How much is he being paid for his role as the Executie Director of CPA? How does his salary and perks compare with the salary and other payments earned by a head of a Sri Lankan government Department or of an academic in a Sri Lankan University?

    If not for this NGO chief role, he might have ended up, the most, as an academic in Sri Lanka and would be struggling to make ends meet like other Sri Lankan academics, unless he comes from a very very affulent family.

    People like Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu earn their living without any sweat. They are very very lucky people like the Sri Lankan politicians who become Ministers or Deputy Ministers or Provincial Council Ministers. Even the high profile lawyers in Sri Lanka make their money by sheer stint of work and efforts. But NGO wallahs like Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu make easy living by filing some splendidly written reports and statements highlighting this or that misdeed of the Sri Lankan government. What a good living!

    • 5

      “How much is he being paid for his role as the Executie Director of CPA? “

      if i’m not mistaken ,he is getting paid around Rs 150,000

      “How does his salary and perks compare with the salary and other payments earned by a head of a Sri Lankan government Department or of an academic in a Sri Lankan University? “

      most of the heads of government departments and senior academics get the same or closer to that amount.

      “If not for this NGO chief role, he might have ended up, the most, as an academic in Sri Lanka and would be struggling to make ends meet like other Sri Lankan academics, unless he comes from a very very affulent family.”

      above statement illustrates your real motive , pure jealousy !!!!

      “People like Pakiyasothy Saravanamuttu earn their living without any sweat.”

      working for an NGO under the the current junta regime is extremely dangerous , in fat there have been many death threat against him , Dr Sara was brave enough to go before the supreme court to challenge 18A . i’m not trying to justify any of the said accusations ,ofcourse he must clear his name by coming forward , but the man has done a lot for the oppressed people of SL !

      • 6

        Agree Srilal and well said.

        Dr. Sara may have short-comings and he must deal with them. He must set an example for others to follow. Lead a lifestyle identifiable with long suffering Sri Lankan peoples’ lives. CPA is a bit tarnished by its elitist way of being. I have said that before.

        However, I greatly appreciate the work Dr. Sara is doing. Against all odds.

        Agree also so far he has not budged to threats from the regime & cronies.

        In a nation full of shameless, spineless bootlickers we ought to appreciate people such Dr. Sara.


        • 7

          Ben Hurling

          I agree with you and srilal on this issue.

          However he is accountable to public for what he does or does not do. As every NGO are increasingly targeted by the clan and his cronies it would be advisable for him to keep good set of accounting books.

          However much his objectives are noble his dealings should be transparent and accountable.

          There is no such thing as sacred cow.

        • 3

          Beno – Make no mistakes, Muttu is paid to do those things, according to CT stories, they even are not doing paid jobs, but pocketing money.

      • 3

        Sira, don’t be stupid, NGOs, including Dr Sara are paid to do those things, that is their job.

        • 1

          Un-paid Hotta ,

          Mate , do you think i don’t know who you represent ????????? think again !!!!

          you can call me stupid , that’s fine , But Dr Sara’s tireless/brave work can’t be undermined by a few alleged accusations , at least for me he is a hero and i salute him for his bravery.

          • 3

            I also salute him for his bravery to “robing donor’s like EU and UNESCO !!

          • 1

            Mate Sira , do you think i don’t know who you represent ????????? – I’m representing CPA values – Good governance and accountability. Can you tell yours?

            • 2

              Un-paid Hotta ,

              you represent who ? CPA values – Good governance and accountability ? carry on mate , i believe you !

              you asked me , who do i represent ? well , i’ve been accused of many things before ! namely , Sinhala Tiger, MR supporter, UNP supporter , JvPer, NGO kaaka etc etc . be my guest , pick one ,choice is yours !

  • 4

    Well it seems that CT is also on a personal agenda like the Sunday Obersevar goes after the UNP for selfish gains -:) ,common CT grow up will you

    • 2

      Hi PL, what is this CT’s personal agenda? can you explain? would love to hear.

  • 4

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that the CT is trying its level best to demonise and castrate the effective opposition to Rajapaksa’s quest for a third term in office.

    The venom and persistence with which CT is pursuing the CPA and its head, Dr Sara, makes me wonder if the CT is acting with an ulterior motive of easing the victory of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election.

    Rajapaksa is a cunning and devious man and he may have done some dirty deal with the CT. You never know!

    • 2

      Hurrah! At last we will get to read what Ella Kolla has to say!

    • 0

      To demonise CPA, Rajapaksa asked Hotta to use F word to the tamil girl in the CPA. And Basil advised Dr Sara to avoid the board decision and keep the Hotta at CPA. And Gota leaked the story to CT. LOL aney [Edited out]

  • 4

    AS Julian Assange points out, ” The last forty years have seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiage, is to execute political agendas by proxy. “

    This type of service does NOT come cheap especially when the agenda is set in some foreign land.

  • 3

    Piro Piro, what is the CPA’s mandate? Is it about going against Rajapaksa/Chandrika/Ranil or providing policy alternatives? As CPA always says it is not about the “government” but it is about “governance”. Lean about CPA before play foolish.

  • 3

    Given the public stance of honesty, good governance and justice that CPA presents, one would expect them without blinking an eyelid say ‘right, let a forensic accounting team from one of the big 5 accounting firms come into the organization immediately and investigate; we’ll cooperate fully.’

    That is what they and their associates expect of the government and the military …. is it not?

  • 2

    Having worked for a human rights NGO for ten years I have personal knowledge of at least two NGOs that are in the habit of presenting dodgy accounts to donors.

  • 3

    Cant believe that these pesants are quibling over couple of drinks ignoring the billions that us being looted.

    • 2

      Hi time CT spend more time to investigate and publish reports on “Genevagate” scandal, what happened to Chris Nonis in NY, Coal import scandal and mega China loan scandals etc,etc which are more grave, huge and mega scandals than a mere CPA liquor bill.

      We are waiting to read these reports from CT reporters.

  • 1

    First of all I agree that there should be checks and balances of any transaction, income and expenses recorded by every NGOs. Many times they have their Annual audits submitted and published.

    But I don’t think it’s a big deal (unless happening very often) to pay a Liquor bill of a dinner by the CPA. After all this could be a dinner to raise funds. Many Non Profit organizations in the West serve Liquor during their Fund Raising dinners, mostly wine.

    Any way I admire Dr.Saravanamuttu for doing a great service to the society. He is taking much risk on himself, his staff and his Organization from the ruling thugs who take every measure to suppress peoples voice, freedom, justice and liberty.

    We need many more of Dr.Saravanamuttus to make a voice for helpless, voiceless and powerless people and to make their voice herd and to empower their lives.

    In fact of going after Dr. Saravanamuttu, CT should spend more time to investigate “Game Baiya’s” and his gangs frauds, illegal contracts and other Financial Gil marts etc,….. what really happened to Ambassador Chris Nonis in NY,…… Genevagate scandal,…..illegal Coal scandal etc,etc.
    These are more serious and important issues than mere CPA liquor bill. CPA mishaps are “Peanuts” compared to other Mega scandals and frauds that are going on in the country.

    Curious and hoping to hear more on these above topics from CT reporters.

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