Opposition demands action on COPE report

Friday, 11 October 2013 03:43 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent The main opposition United National Party yesterday demanded what action the Government was proposing to take about the sorry state of Sri Lanka’s public sector, almost three months after the Committee on Public Enterprises released a damning report. Moving the adjournment debate, Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunge said COPE had called for action against those handling State institutions that had been found guilty of corruption. He said the Government should inform the House about what action it proposed to take against these individuals since it was Parliament that under Article 148 of the Constitution had full control over public finances. The COPE report was tabled in Parliament on 23 July 2013, Amaratunge said, after an inordinate delay. “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. The COPE report also points out that nearly 30 institutions had not tabled their 2009 Annual Reports in Parliament as at 30 June 2013 and nearly 50 institutions failed to table their Annual Reports in Parliament as at 30 June 2013,” the Chief Opposition Whip charged, calling for Government action. Amaratunge said Parliament was the custodian of the finances of the Republic and it is this custodianship that COPE exercises. “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 an on behalf of Parliament,” he said. UNP said Article 148 of the Constitution states 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.” Key observations made in the last COPE report included: 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.