JVP gets Kiriella’s goat


By Saman Indrajith

State policies were formulated by the government but not by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), Leader of the House Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament yesterday.

The minister said so responding to a question raised by JVP parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti about the ownership of the Lanka Transformer Limited coming under the Ceylon Electricity Board during the third reading stage debate on budget 2017 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Power and Renewable Energy.

MP Handunnetti said the government was trying to transfer the ownership of LTL and it should acquire the shares owned by the company. The COPE, too, had recommended that the government acquire those shares. The government owned 63 percent of the shares of LTL so the government had a right to get involved in the affairs of the LTL. The COPE should be able to summon the LTL’s subsidiary, the LTL Holdings before the watch dog committee. The government should place its shares under the Treasury. "Is there a plan to bring down the percent of shares owned by the government to 50 per cent? If government’s ownership goes down to 49 per cent then Parliament would lose its power over LTL", he said.

Leader of the House: The government formulates its policies. The COPE cannot make government policies.

MP Handunnetti: Is it Economic Operational Committee that prepare the government policies?

Minister Kiriella: You could inspect the accounts.

MP Handunnetti: What powers does the Economic Operational Committee have to prepare policies?

Minister Kiriella: That committee make recommendations to the Cabinet.

MP Handunnetti: You spurn the recommendations of the COPE, but accepts the recommendations of the Economic Operational Committee. COPE is not Handunnetti. COPE is parliament including you.

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