COPE report presented to Parliament

Friday, 2 December 2011 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Uditha Jayasinghe

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) handed over its report covering 229 organisations to Parliament yesterday.

COPE Chairman Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera told media that it covered 229 public enterprises within 16 months to present the latest report to the House.

Despite declining to reveal the amount of wastage, Gunasekera admitted that it was essential for the public to consider the report as an “eye-opener” since COPE is not empowered to take legal action against any of these organisations.  “However, I did notify the Police and Bribery and Corruption Commission on some of the findings in the COPE report and some action was taken. For example in the Timber Corporation we managed to recover a vehicle that has been missing for eight years,” he said.

In the preface of the document, which was released to the media at the event, COPE outlines several recommendations, including updating corporate plans, having well planned procurement documents, have efficient audit and management committees as well as tabling of annual reports.

Unsatisfactory recovery of debts and funds from retired officers, breach of agreements and wastage of public money due to legal issues were all highlighted in the report.

“Loans between Government institutions include Rs. 10 million owed by Mihin Lanka to Rupavahini, Rs. 50 million owed from Sri Lanka Ports Authority to Ceylon Shipping Corporation, non-payment of interest by Mihin Lanka to Airport and Aviation services on a Rs. 500 million loan and Rubber Manufacturing and Export Corporation owing Rs. 115 million to People’s Bank and Rs. 1.4 billion to the Treasury,” the report said.

Universities had also lost millions. Peradeniya University (Rs. 105 million), Hector Kobbekaduwa Research Institute (Rs. 11 million), Open University (Rs. 40 million), Moratuwa University (Rs. 17 million) and Sri Jayawardenapura (Rs. 69 million) were the noteworthy ones.  

In the State Mortgage and Investment Bank, a number of loans had been defaulted after the payment of only one or two instalments. Rupavahini had taken no effort to recover Rs. 42 million for use of air time from various parties.    National Gem and Jewellery Authority, State Mortgage and Investment Bank, Rupavahini and Sri Lanka Telecom were identified as institutions with decreasing profit over the years. “The most alarming fact is that the decrease of some of these companies was around 90% by 2009.”

Loss-making institutions for 2010 were numbered at 48, including Sri Lanka Tea Board, State Pharmaceutical Corporation, National Child Protection Authority, CPC, CEB, Mahaweli Authority, Mihin Lanka, Sri Lanka Ports Authority, Samurdhi Authority, Sri Lanka Transport Board, Disaster Management Centre, Road Development Authority, Urban Development Authority and even National Enterprise Development Authority.  COPE called on the internal auditor and the Treasury to be more vigilant of the funds that are disbursed and accounted by them. Abandonment of projects, underutilisation of assets and outdated procedures were also outlined in a chunky document.