COPE To Ensure Good Governance

by Hafsa Sabry

The issues in implementing the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) on state institutions that function with public funds is still a concern due to the failure of the government to implement the recommendations according to COPE reports.

The purpose of the COPE is to analyse the accounts of the state institutions which come under the authorisation of the committee and to regulate them but, this does not seem to happen. The newly appointed COPE committee and the Chairman should take measures to make the committee more effective in order to regulate the state institutions which handle public funds.

“The list of names of the institutions which come under the authorisation of the COPE will be published on our official website to inform the public about the institutions that function with their money,” says the new chairman of the COPE Sunil Handunnetti. “We are planning to provide an E-Mail address, official facebook pages, fax numbers and telephone numbers in which through researchers, professionals through which  people can contact the committee and share their ideas,” he added.

“We would like to keep the promises of the Good Governance which means that there will be a government without bribery and corruption. Therefore, I would like to tell the people to come forward if they have any information on any state institutions, corporations and public banks that deal with public funds about bribery and corruption and not to be afraid of the JVP,” said Sunil Handunnetti.

However, the committee plans to have a direct link with the public. The COPE committee  aims to eradicate bribery and corruption in  state institutions over  public funds.

“Noone in my 15 years of experience as a member of the committee, has been fined or discharged as a result of the recommendations made by the committee, this failure could have been due to the limitations of power of the executives,” he claimed.

The previous committees analysed the accounts reports and the audit records of the state institutions and submitted the COPE report to the parliament that is responsible to implement the recommendations. The Committee has the power to summon before them and question any person, call for and examine any paper, book, record or other documents and to have access to stores and property. However, the ministries have to take  responsibility towards implementing the submitted recommendations. Even though COPE is one of the most powerful financial regulating committees in the parliament, they did not have a direct contact with the public and the media.

“Some of the COPE’s reports were forwarded to the CIABOC When W.J.M. Lokubandara was the Speaker of the Parliament, but action against the individuals who were charged was not taken. Two previous chairman’s of the COPE committee were effective enough to rule out bribery and corruption from the state institutions and they brought many cases to the notice of the parliament but failed to implement them completely as the executives have the power and the responsibility to implement them,” said Handunnetti.

 

Former COPE Chairman DEW Gunasekara

“The duty of this Committee is to examine the accounts of the Public Corporations and of any business undertaking vested in the government, but the implementation of the recommendations made by COPE come under the purview of the executives, the President and the Prime Minister. The media should question them as to why the recommendations from COPE was not implemented effectively,” said the former Chairman of COPE DEW. Gunasekara.

“Following the submission of the recommendations, the relevant authorities and the ministries should work on implementing them effectively. However, we cannot expect  government bodies to implement all our recommendations accurately, he further noted.

“According to my knowledge no recommendations by the COPE was implemented since the beginning of the committee over state institutions, but large numbers of changes were made whilst I was at office as the Chairman for the last  four- five years,” he claimed.

He went onto say that  several of chairman’s from some of the state owned institutions were removed while some General Managers also were removed from their posts in order to make the enterprises work more effectively without losses, bribery and corruption.

“At present only 16 institutions are running at a loss whilst other enterprises are being regulated and operated with profits.  The Implementation and recommendations of  the COPE is a big process which has to go through several discussions by the ministries. The COPE will question the relevant Ministers in the parliament about their failure when the recommendations were not properly implemented,” he added. However, there is no difference in the newly appointed committee except for the chairman who was from the opposition and the reduction in the numbers of the committee members. “Even though he is from the JVP, he has a balanced mind  and will do his job well as a chairman of the committee. He has the talent and the capability to do this job. I am not sure of the other members of neither the committee nor their capabilities but he is the only person that I recommended for this post,” said the chairman of the COPE.

 

Former COPE Chairman Wijedasa Rajapaksa

“I have no idea what the recently appointed committee would do about the report and the regulations of the state institutions as I had no time to check into that matter but, I hope the new committee will do better with the new chairman Sunil Handunnetti as he is capable of doing the job as the chairman of the COPE”, said the former chairman of the COPE and the Minister for Justice Wijedasa Rajapaksa.

“When I was at office as  the chairman of the COPE revealed corruption amounting to nearly 300 billion rupees but after that he was removed by the former President from the post. The new committee having a leader from the opposition is  better equipped to regulate state institutions of the financial sector. As the committee has not even had a sitting I am not sure of their plans but hope that the new chairman will do better to bring the state institutions’ financial reports and the audit analysis to the parliament,”  he added.

“Nevertheless not a single recommendation that we submitted to the parliament were implemented by the government. I attempted to implement them by filing cases against some of the institutions and following the court ruling some of the recommendations were implemented,” concluded the Minister.

 

1 Comment for “COPE To Ensure Good Governance”

  1. gamarala

    The “only” 16 institutions running at a loss are responsible for citizens half starving
    and women braving the cruel employers of the middle east.
    These institutions are a millstone round the neck of the nation, run by political misfits, hence ‘cannot be touched’.
    What price “yahapalanaya” ?

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