COPA admits failure to live up to founding principles



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Lasantha


By Saman Indrajith


Chairman of COPA (Committee on Public Accounts) Finance and Mass Media Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna yesterday said that COPA had not been able to render a satisfactory service since its inception in 1978.


The Deputy Minister told the media yesterday at the parliamentary complex: "The aims and objectives of setting up of COPA have not been achieved. It is not because of the fault of either COPA or Parliament. It is owing to practical reasons.


"The task of the Committee on Public Accounts is to ensure the managerial efficiency and financial discipline of the government, its ministries, departments, Provincial Councils and local government authorities. This has to be done annually. Parliament passes budgetary allocations for those institutions every year. The institutions should be probed annually. There are 837 institutions. Given the practical reasons such as the number of days per year and number of sitting days of parliament, the COPA simply cannot achieve its objective of overseeing all those 837 institutions."


Alagiyawanna said that under his chairmanship, the committee had inspected all 837 institutions in 2016 by sending questionnaires to them. "The responses sent back to us were verified again by the Auditor General’s Department. That was the first time such a task had ever been achieved. For the ten year period from 1994 to 2004 only one institution had been investigated. From 2004 to 2010 again only one institution had been probed. For the past 37 years only 400 institutions had been investigated. For the past two-and-a-half years we managed to investigate 225 institutions by summoning them before COPA."


COPA is one of the two Financial Committees in Parliament. It consists of twelve members nominated by the Committee of Selection. The duty of this committee is to examine the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure.


The COPA head said: "Our committee system can conduct only financial post mortems on frauds and corruption. But we intend to change that and take measures to prevent recurring of financial misappropriation."


COPA Member JVP MP Nihal Galappaththi said that the committee’s attention had been drawn to finding ways and means of informing the Attorney General Department of financial misappropriation and corruption incidents found by COPA and to take legal action against the officials responsible.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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