UNP: What will govt. do with COPE findings?


by Ajith Alahakoon and Sirimantha Ratnasekera

The UNP yesterday demanded to know what action the government would take with regard to the findings and recommendations by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) in its report.

Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga moving the House for a debate on the COPE report at the time of adjournment said that the report had been tabled in Parliament on July 23, 2013 albeit after an inordinately long delay. No explanation was given for the delay.

"Be that as it may, the report highlights the sorry plight of Sri Lanka’s Public Sector. Article 148 provides that: ‘Parliament shall have full control over public  finance. No tax, rate or any other levy shall be imposed by any local authority or any other public authority, except by or under the authority of a law passed by Parliament or of any existing law’. Clearly then Parliament is the custodian of the finances of the Republic and it is this custodianship that COPE exercises," he said.

MP Amaratunga said: "It is the bounden duty of Parliament therefore to protect the state’s investments in the several enterprises. And it is this duty that COPE exercises for and on behalf of Parliament. Millions of Rupees squandered in loss making ventures is only half the story. The other half is a long litany of mismanagement compounded by corruption at unprecedented levels. Some of the observations made in the Report are: The need to increase salaries of Professionals in the Public Sector; The need to appoint Private Auditors; Improper Financial Planning; The need to strengthen Internal Audit; The Unsatisfactory Debt Management; The Adverse Role of Trade Unions on Decision Making; The need to Shift to a Cost Accounting System; and The need to appoint qualified persons as Heads of Institutions.

The Report also points out that nearly 80 institutions had not tabled their Annual Reports in Parliament as at 30.06.2013.

The Report also refers to the need for positive action against those found guilty of cheating and corruption.

In the circumstances, will the Government inform this House what action they propose to take regarding the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Public Enterprises?"

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