New members to peruse accounts of nearly 50 Government institutions
By Chamodi Gunawardana
The newly-appointed Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) will hold its first meeting today to oversee public finance.
The new committee appointed last week by Parliament comprises 12 members representing the main political parties of the House such as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the United National Party (UNP), the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Minister of Disaster Management Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayasekara, State Minister of Agriculture Wasantha Aluwihare, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera, Deputy Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare Ranjan Ramanayake, Deputy Minister of Transport Ashok Abeysinghe, MP Chandrasiri Gajadeera, MP Sunil Handunnetti and MP M.A. Sumanthiran are the new members of COPE.
The appointment of COPE is to report to Parliament on accounts examined, budgets and estimates, financial procedures, performance and management of corporations and other Government business transactions.
The accounts of these organisations are audited by the Auditor General and form the basis of the investigations of the Committee. It has the power to summon the relevant officials and such other people as it thinks fit to obtain evidence and call for documents. The Committee reports to the Parliament and the recommendations contained in their reports are deemed to be directives to the respective corporations or statutory boards for due compliance.
Several prominent UNP members including Dr. Harsha de Silva have been openly critical of Parliament failing to punish instances of mismanaged public funds.
PHU demands more members in COPE
The Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) yesterday asserted the Opposition must have more space in the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).
PHU Leader and MP Udaya Gammanpila said the Joint Opposition comprising the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), the National Freedom Front (NFF) and the Democratic Left Front (DLF) should have at least three members in COPE.
“Parliament has appointed two members for COPE from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which is holding six seats in the Parliament, but only one from all of us. This is not fair,” he claimed.
Gammanpila further charged: “Prior COPEs comprised of 31 members reflecting the party composition in the House, but this time it has been limited to 12. We believe the Government wants to shut our mouths.”
However, the membership of COPE has been reduced to 12 due to the poor attendance of members, Government officials said. The Standing Order 126 of Parliament required that only 12 members could be appointed, but 21 members were appointed in previous times in agreement with political parties.