In light of reports that members of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) had violated the Parliament ACT by making statements to the media before the submission of the report, its Chairman, MP Sunil Handunnetti said that he would suggest the possibility of opening the proceedings to the media to avoid misinterpretation.
Speaking to the Weekend Nation, Handunnetti said that he would suggest to the Speaker on the possibility of opening the proceedings to the media where they would function as mere observers.
“However, the privacy of the officials giving evidence should be respected. Therefore, there needs to be a code of ethics for journalists if it is to be opened,” Handunnetti said.
Meanwhile, former chairman of the COPE, DEW Gunasekera said that there would be both positive and negative impacts if the proceedings were opened up for the media. “It should be done carefully. Not all proceedings can be open to the media. Therefore, it should be done with certain restrictions and instructions,” he said.
Proceedings of both COPE and Committee on Public Accounts which are the most prominent parliamentary oversight committees have traditionally not been open to the media and only the final reports are published once they are presented in parliament.
The task of the Committee on Public Accounts is to probe the managerial efficiency and financial discipline of the Government, its Ministries, Departments, Provincial Councils and Local Authorities.
The duty of cope is to report to Parliament on accounts examined, budgets and estimates, financial procedures, performance and management of Corporations and other Government Business Undertakings.