July 24, 2021
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    The process of digitizing cinemas should be carried out with standards - COPE Chair Prof. Charitha Herath

    July 21, 2021

    The Chairman of the COPE Committee Prof. Charitha Herath said that many issues have transpired due to the lack of standards in the process of digitizing cinemas.

    Accordingly, The COPE Committee Chair pointed out that a new perspective on the part of the Sri Lanka National Film Corporation with regards to the digitization of cinemas is required. He stated the above at the COPE Committee meeting held on the 19 th of July 2021.

    The COPE Committee Meeting was held to examine the Auditor General's Reports and the Current Performance Reports for the Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 of the Sri Lanka National Film Corporation.

    The COPE Committee also disclosed that the outstanding film production loan balance which was given by the National Film Corporation and Fund as at 31 December 2020 is Rs. 141,292,087.

    The Committee also directed the Corporation to take immediate action in order to recover the outstanding loan amount of Rs. 7,780,983 for 146 cinemas which were closed before 2001.

    Recommendations were made at the COPE Committee meeting held on 24 th March 2016 to formulate a program for the modernization of cinema halls and to report on the progress The COPE Committee inquired the National Film Corporation regarding the non- implementation of the afforests thus far.

    By the end of 2019, the Corporation maintained 09 current bank accounts and the Committee disclosed that its average monthly balance was Rs. 29.2 million. The COPE chair pointed out that the lack of proper financial management governing this institution is a serious concern.

    The COPE Committee paid special attention regarding the failure to complete the construction of a museum and a film school named after Dr. Lester James Peries which commenced on April 05 th , 2019 at an estimated cost of Rs. 99.9 million on time.

    The approval of the Urban Development Authority had not been obtained for the construction. The Committee instructed the Chairman of the National Film Corporation, Dr.
    Jayantha Dharmadasa to complete this project following the due process.

    The Committee further directed the Chairman of the National Film Corporation to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of a Film School.
    It was also revealed that two officers who had not been confirmed in a permanent position at the Department of Cultural Affairs in 2019 and another officer had been appointed to fill the three vacancies existing in the National Film Corporation as acting officers and to perform duties with their salaries and allowances amounting to a total of Rs. 3,098,046.
    The Committee paid special attention towards the non-recovery of the movie rental of Rs. 12,343,433 from the Maradana Cine City Cinema Hall from 2003 to 31 st May 2016 as at March 2021.

    Although Rs. 25 million has been allocated for the improvement of the production facilities of the University Studio in Kelaniya and Rs. 50 million has been allocated for the
    establishment of a film archive and restoration of films, the amount had not been utilized during the year under review. The Committee also paid special attention to the fact that out of the Rs. 50 million allocated for the establishment of a National Training School, only Rs. 500,000 was spent.

    The Committee also inquired from the Corporation regarding the non-compliance with the Procurement Guidelines pertaining to the expenditure of Rs. 44,394,717 for the Presidential Film Awards which was held on 31 st March 2017.

    The Chairman of the Committee Prof. Charitha Herath instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs Prof. Kapila Gunawardena to inquire into the matter and submit a report to the Committee.

    The Committee also paid special attention to the fact that an action plan for the year 2020 has not been prepared in line with the 2020-2025 Combined Plan.
    It was also pointed out that the annual reports of the National Film since 2015 have not been tabled in Parliament. The Committee directed the Secretary to the Ministry to take immediate action on this regard.

    The Committee made note that there are 57 vacancies in the National Film Corporation at present and that the Corporation has not acted upon getting the amendments to the
    recruitment procedure approved by the Management Services Department.

    The Committee making a recommendation to the Secretary to the Ministry stated that several high-ranking officials of the Corporation have been suspended and that
    investigations regarding such suspensions to be completed expeditiously. The Committee was of the view that the delay of some disciplinary inquiries by one and a half years was an issue of concern.

    Prof. Kapila Gunawardena stated that at present the distribution of films are done by the private sector and that a gazette notification will be issued in the future to take it over to
    the government.
    Hon. Minister (Dr.) Sarath Weerasekera addressing the committee pointed out the need to electronically distribute tickets in cinemas.
    Hon. Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Hon. State Ministers Susil Premajayantha and Indika Anuruddha, Hon. Members of Parliament Patali Champika Ranawaka, Eran  Wickramaratne, Harsha de Silva, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Jagath Pushpakumara, Jayantha Samaraweera, Premnath C. Dolawaththa, Shanakiyan Rasamanickam and Uddika Premarathna were present at this meeting held.

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