COPA instructs Health Ministry to probe harmful substances in imported food

Monday, 19 April 2021 01:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Says MoH has powers to carry out checks but there is negligence
  • Calls for improvement of food testing laboratory facilities
  • Former COPA Chairman says lack of proper coordination among labs worsening situation

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) informed the officials of the Ministry of Health to conduct an immediate and comprehensive inspection regarding the harmful substances in food, including imported food items such as coconut oil, given that such authority is vested with the Ministry of Health.

COPA Chairman MP Tissa Vitharana informed officials that laboratory facilities for food testing should be improved and that the laws pertaining to food security should be amended expeditiously.

COPA members, including its former Chairman State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna, noted that the situation has worsened due to the lack of proper coordination among food testing laboratories.

The committee met to review the Auditor General’s reports on the Ministry of Health for 2017/2018 and Current Performance, and many members said there were a number of issues currently arising due to the non-implementation of a proper program for food security in the country.

JVP MP Harini Amarasuriya emphasised on the fact that cosmetics imported into the country contain highly harmful chemicals. The committee was of the view that it was important to formulate a proper regulatory system for the importation of beauty products and instructed officials of the Ministry of Health to take immediate action in this regard.

The committee also heard that the contract for the construction of the seven-storey Millennium Ward Complex at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila, was awarded to a private company on 14 August 2006 with a contract value of Rs. 398 million. Although it was scheduled to be completed on 19 March 2008, the contract had ended with the work incomplete. The committee paid special attention to the failure in recovering the excess Rs. 51 million paid to the contractor, and directed the Secretary to the Ministry of Health to take immediate action in recovering this amount.

Further, the project to construct a new building complex for the Ministry of Health was awarded to CECB on 29 October 2014, at a levy inclusive contract value of Rs. 3,896 million, but it was revealed that the building plan had not been approved by the Municipal Council before the beginning of construction and that no feasibility study had been conducted for the project.

The Committee also expressed its displeasure over the fact that 224 fingerprint machines purchased by the MoH in 2006 at a cost of Rs. 31.71 million have been inactive for more than 15 years.