Friday, 23 May 2003  
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Rs. 1 billion blocked from Lotteries Board Mahapola Fund to curtail scholarships by half

The Mahapola Trust Fund has announced that they would be able to meet only half, of the scholarships required this year due to the President's Fund blocking more than Rs. One billion due from the Development Lottery income.

The current financial situation of the Fund makes provisions for only 7000 new scholarships per annum, which could not be increased from 2001,a press release of the Ministry of Commerce and Consumer Affairs which administers the Mahapola Fund stated.

It states that the intake of students to the Universities has seen an increase over the years from 5004 in 1981-82 to 19,054 students in 2003 with provisions for two intakes of students admitted to clear the existing backlog.

The Mahapola Trust Fund and the President's Fund are the two beneficiaries of the Development Lottery profits.It is one of the major sources of income for the Mahapola Trust Fund the other being the interest income of Trust Funds.

Since January 10, 1983, the Mahapola Trust Fund has been utilising the funds received from the DLB through the President's Fund towards providing financial assistance to deserving undergraduates to pursue their higher education in the Universities and other higher education institutions. However since 1997 the President's Fund has failed and neglected to remit the total due share out of the profit to scholarship fund which amounts to Rs. 706.8 million capital and a further sum of Rs. 295 million as interest accruing over the years.

Due to this situation the Mahapola Trust Fund was not able to increase the scholarship grant or the number of new scholarships for the past four academic years. The main beneficiaries of the Mahapola grant are the undergraduates whose family income does not exceed Rs. 12,000 per month.

The Trust Fund sources said that several communications made through the Cabinet to get the funds released from the President's Fund had not met with results.

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