Nihal writes to COPE Chief

Wednesday, 1 February 2012 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Hon. D.E.W. Gunasekera

Chairman, Committee on Public          Enterprises (COPE)

Parliament of Sri Lanka

Sri Jayawardenepura


Dear Chairman,

Action on COPE and other reports?

Reference the aforementioned, I attach the following:

1.Daily Mirror front page News Report of Saturday, 21.1.2012 headlined ‘Bribery, CID Officers to be summoned by COPE. DEW says they are sitting on COPE Report’.

2.The Sunday Times Column by Political Editor of 29.1.2012, with a section headlined ‘President decides on good governance, orders tough action on corrupt officials identified in COPE Reports’. The President is quoted to have stated to the Cabinet that – ‘he did not care whether the persons concerned worked for him or the government in 2005, or were supporters or not’. You being a Cabinet Minister would know the veracity thereof.

3.Statement attributed to Prof. A.D.V de S. Indraratne, a former President of the Organization of Professional Associations (OPA) in the Daily FT of 30.1.2012 headlined ‘COPE: Exposure and beyond’

Particularly, vis-à-vis, the perverse privatisations of Lanka Marine Services Ltd. (LMSL) and Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation Ltd., (SLIC), I made extensive representations, which facilitated COPE to submit castigating Reports thereon in 2007. Consequently, the Supreme Court annulled these privatisations, as wrongful, unlawful, illegal and fraudulent.

Complaints were made to the CID and the Bribery Commission. Noticing me, the Bribery Commission recorded my statements for nearly 8 days on the LMSL and SLIC privatisations, obtaining copies of relevant documents. Though I was assured that actions would be taken, nothing forthcame. One of the Supreme Court Justices, D.J. de S. Balapatabendi, who was a Member of the Supreme Court Bench, which delivered the LMSL Judgment in July 2008, is today the Chairman of the Bribery Commission.

Prof. A.D.V de S. Indraratne, a President of OPA, is well aware that the OPA was prevented from proceeding with action, vis-à-vis, professional conduct of Members, with the relevant professional institutions; in the context of the COPE Reports having castigated certain professional firms and certain professionals.

In addition to the 2011 and 2007 COPE Reports you refer to, I attach the COPE Report of 2005. A Presidential Commission of Inquiry was appointed to investigate into Failed Finance Companies, inter-alia, dealt with in the said COPE Report. I gave evidence before the said Commission. The outcome is unknown, and so also, as to what resulted from the 2005 COPE Report? I trust that COPE is a continuing body and would be following-up on the findings in previous COPE Reports.

In addition, I draw your kind attention to the Special Investigative Report on the Management of Government Tax Revenue (actually mismanagement), submitted in July 2006 to Parliament by the Auditor General in terms of Article 154(6) of the Constitution, including on the scandalous VAT fraud. What resulted from it is unknown? The PAC also submitted a further Report on this matter in November 2007, and I believe a Joint-Report was submitted by the PAC and COPE.

I attach the Study Group Report on the scandalous hedging deals, which had met only on three occasions, that too, with one key member confirming that he had not attended a single meeting, but had communicated via e-mail. Hereto, no warranted action in terms of the law has been yet taken.

The foregoing not only involves selected public officers, but also elected public officers, holding ministerial portfolios. Hence, it would be improperly misleading, if endeavour is made to make belief that those responsible and accountable are only selected public officers, and not politicians wielding power.  

Not only has there been the total failure of law enforcement upholding the ‘rule of law’ equally, but on the contrary, the alleged miscreants, notwithstanding even Supreme Court findings, let alone COPE, have ironically been appointed to further public office by the State, and high office by the private sector, including Banks, with the Central Bank having to approve all Senior Officers of Banks as ‘fit and proper persons’! Such conduct is with scant regard to the Articles in the UN Convention Against Corruption, which Sri Lanka ratified, as far back as March 2004.

As a very senior politician, advocating good governance, I trust that your words would not be mere rhetoric, but even though belatedly would result in tangible visible actions, irrespective of the personalities concerned; the accepted norm in civilised society is the prompt resignation of those concerned from holding office whether in the public or private sectors, to facilitate the independent and impartial law enforcement.

Nihal Sri Ameresekere,

F.C.A., F.C.M.A., C.M.A., C.F.E.