Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday suspended the sessions of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) until further notice.
Following the move the pre-scheduled COPE meeting at 1:00 p.m. yesterday was cancelled.
The Speaker announced the temporary suspension in response to a question raised by Opposition and SJB Leader MP Sajith Premadasa during day 4 of the ongoing debate on the Second Reading of 2024 Appropriation Bill.
COPE Chairman Prof. Ranjith Bandara came under fire for his conduct at the latest committee meeting for which the officials of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) were summoned for inquiries.
Later, the presence of Prof. Bandara’s son, Kanishka Bandara at the said meeting also became a controversy. However, the COPE Chairman defended his actions in a clarification issued, saying that his son serves as his coordinating secretary.
Prof. Bandara said his son was permitted to attend the meeting by the assistant sergeant-at-arms at his request.
However, the Speaker told the Parliament on Thursday that an investigation would be conducted into the matter.
In addition, the COPE Chairman also found himself in hot water after the Opposition Leader revealed some documents in Parliament, evidencing that Prof. Bandara served as a consultant for SLC on the Kandy Cricket Campus project, apart from another consultancy firm owned by him which provides services to the cricket body.
The Opposition Leader Premadasa lashed at Prof. Bandara for not disclosing his connection to SLC beforehand and continuing to act as the COPE Chairman despite this possible conflict of interest.
In a clarification, the SLC said Prof. Bandara does not have any connections to the current administration of the cricket body as his services were obtained from 2017 to 2018 when Thilanga Sumathipala was in office as the SLC president.
In the wake of the controversy concerning his ‘hand gesture’ made during the COPE meeting with SLC officials, Prof. Bandara explained that this was just a tactical manoeuvre to manage a challenging situation as multiple participants were trying to speak simultaneously.