PM seeks clarity from Cooperative officials on auctioning property

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has questioned the Western Provincial Cooperative Officers with regard to the auctioning off of properties.

The Prime Minister has questioned if it was fair to auction off the property that the members have sustained for a long time without taking the necessary measures to recover the cooperative system when it fails.

He raised the question during a discussion regarding the problems faced by the cooperative societies in the Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara Districts of the Western Province and provided prompt solutions to those issues.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the discussion was held at Temple Trees today (May 22).

The Prime Minister informed the Western Province Governor as well as the relevant officials that when there is an economic crisis in the country, the government officials should act accordingly to find remedies and that the preliminary draft to change the cooperative charter in the Western Province, is not strong enough.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena pointed out that the cooperative movement does a great service to provide relief to the public in times of crisis in the country.

“The property belonging to Cooperatives is built over a long period of time and some of them are donations from various people. I know very well about the property of the Society in Hewagam Korale East. It is true that everything should be done according to the law. Yet, is it fair to deprive these Cooperatives of their property without trying any means to recover the failed system?

“On the other hand, a system is needed to appoint those who have expertise in the field irrespective of the fact that they are Government officers or not, to the committee until the cooperative society elections are held. Similarly, if a person has been accused by the Board of Directors for some reason and is released from it, that person has no possibility to become a member of the cooperative society again. There is no place to submit an appeal. It is a violation of fundamental rights. This situation has arisen due to the weakness of the Western Province Cooperative Charter. In this way, the cooperative movement will not continue. Now if these issues are referred to the Parliamentary Petitions Committee, decisions will have to be taken not only against the petitioner but also against the officials who committed injustice. And I request you to advise the legal officer in the Provincial Council to contact the Attorney General and seek prompt and practical answers to these legal questions,” he said.

Speaking during the discussion, Parliamentarian Rohitha Abeygunawardena said that in addition to the investigation under the Cooperative Department, an urgent investigation should be conducted through the Criminal Investigation Department to prevent the destruction of valuable property.

Also commenting on the matter, MP Kokila Gunawardena requested the officials to contact institutions like Sathosa and prepare a program to refurbish the cooperative consumer sectors that are facing financial problems.

Members of Parliament Rohitha Abeygunawardena and Kokila Gunawardena, Western Province Governor Air Force Marshal Roshan Gunathilake, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Ranjith Ashoka, Western Province Chief Secretary Pradeep Yasaratne, Secretary of the Western Province Ministry of Roads, Transport and Cooperative Development Champa N. Perera, Cooperative Development Commissioner of the Western Province R. A. Vijayawickrama, Secretary of Cooperative Employees Commission M. A. P. Jayakodi, and Assistant Cooperative Commissioners of the Colombo, Gampaha, and Kalutara Districts were also present in this discussion.