COPE report on bond issue within two weeks


By Saman Indrajith

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) report on the Central Bank Treasury Bond issue will be presented to Parliament within two weeks, COPE Chairman Sunil Handunneti said.

Handunnetti made this observation while presenting the COPE interim report for the first quarter of the year in Parliament yesterday. The concise report consisting of 120 pages includes findings and recommendations on 19 public enterprises probed by the COPE from January 26 to April 8, 2016. This is the first COPE report presented in the eighth Parliament.

Handunnetti, observing that the concise report contains general observations on the Central Bank, said the bond issue would be dealt separately considering it as a special case. He said the investigations on the bond issue were underway with the support of all members on the COPE and the CB officials have been summoned before the Committee on Friday to proceed on the investigations.

Handunneti also made a special request from the Speaker and Parliament to revise the Standing Orders (SOs) to remove the barriers for the smooth and effective operation of the COPE. He asked to revise the SOs to open the proceedings of the COPE to the public and the media. Later on, addressing a press conference at a Committee Room in Parliament, Handunnetti said all the 26 members in the Committee had unanimously requested that the media be allowed to report on the COPE sittings.

He made a special request from the whistleblowers in public enterprises to come out with what they know, adding that the confidentiality of such information and the people would be assured. "Write to the COPE Secretary, send us a fax, email or drop a letter addressed to the Parliament Secretariat. We will be considering those facts. Unlike the previous years, the COPE has earned public trust and it has gradually become closer to the public. We want to further improve this relationship. We like to hear the trade unions too. We invite all those against corruption and fraud to come out and give information and we assure their jobs won’t be at risk.      

He said the spot raids of the COPE would continue and they had produced impressive results. "We have a list of institutions to carry on spot raids in the coming days" he said.

The COPE was in need of the assistance of an officer of the Attorney General’s Department and the assistance of the specialists to attend to various technical tasks, Handunnetti said. He made special reference to the non-implementation of the recommendations of the COPE, which, he said, needed more powers to take further action at such instances. He called for amending the SOs to make it mandatory for those recommendations to be implemented.     

Handunnetti said that among the 35 institutions the COPE had probed so far this year, there was no institution that the COPE could be satisfied with. Commenting on the Sri Lankan Airlines, the Chairman said the recommendations, given in the report could be used by the Cabinet to take a policy decision on the institution. He said the COPE was waiting for the Auditor General’s report on the coal tender controversy to initiate a probe into the issue.  

The 19 public enterprises in the report include the Bank of Ceylon, the Ceylon Electricity Board, LTL Holdings, Rakna Arakshaka Lanka, Sri Lankan Airlines, State Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Central Bank, Sri Lanka Cricket, Janata Estate Development Board, Agriculture and Agrarian Insurance Board, Lankaputra Development Bank, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation among others.        

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella, speaking after Handunnetti in Parliament, expressed their support to open the COPE proceedings to media, adding that they had always been in favour of the move. 

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