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COPE report: Opposition blame Govt for inaction

Bribery Commission has suspended investigations – Wijeyadasa Rajapakse
The Bribery Commission had arbitrarily suspended investigations into financial irregularities and malpractices at a number of public enterprises — which the Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE) had unearthed in 2007 -said UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse in Parliament yesterday.

Mr. Rajapakse, who had been chairman of COPE at the time, said that he had submitted two separate reports to Parliament (on January 12, 2007 and August 24, 2007) and that both reports had been approved by Parliament. In them COPE had outlined measures that should be taken against the authorities of certain public enterprises.

“We recommended further investigations by the CID and the Bribery Commission. Accordingly, the then Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara, at our request, ordered the Commission to submit reports to the House once in every two weeks on the progress of their investigations. Yet the Commission has stopped doing this,” he said.

Mr. Rajapakse, who is also the chairman of Sri Lanka Bar Association, said that the police officer who was in charge of the investigations had been transferred to Ampara without any valid reason, and it led to a halt in the investigations. He said that the director general of the Bribery Commission had also been transferred, and this, too, had struck a blow to the investigations. Therefore, he asked Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to take steps to revive the investigations. Referring to two public interest litigations that had been filed on the basis of these findings, he said that the government had been able to take over the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and 1100 acres of land within the port area.

“If not for COPE, we could not have taken back these valuable assets for the use of the general public,” he said.

He also faulted the COPE report submitted to Parliament on December 1, 2011 under the chairmanship of Senior Minister D.E.W. Gunasekara, for blaming the ministry secretaries alone for the misappropriations.

“It is unfair by the ministry secretaries. There are ministers acting above them. We know there are some good secretaries. If you blame the ministry secretaries alone for the corruption, you will indirectly whitewash the subject ministers,” he said.

Commenting on the composition of COPE, he said that in countries with developed democracies ministers and deputy ministers were not appointed to such committees.

“In Sri Lanka, we have done away with this democratic tradition. When ministers are appointed as members of watchdog committees, they will not be interested in carrying out investigations into cases at the institutions coming under them,” he said.

Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka
JVP faults govt. for failing to act on COPE findings
JVP Colombo District MP Sunil Handunetti yesterday faulted the government for failing to investigate into alleged fraud and corruption revealed in the report released by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).
 MP Handunetti, participating in the adjournment debate on the COPE report, demanded to know what action the government had taken on the allegations raised and findings made by the COPE. “Can the government tell this House today of anything they have done to institute legal action against the officials found fault with in this report? Have they sent home a single politician or an official found guilty of corruption by the COPE?”

The JVP MP said that the government should investigate allegations levelled against ministers in the COPE report. “Billions of rupees given away by the Lankaputhra Bank have not been recovered. What action have you taken in this regard? It seems that the COPE report is only being used to strike deals with opposition MPs when the government wants to coerce them to switch alliances. Accordingly, those who were found guilty by this report could remain unaffected till they serve the agenda of the top powers. Their financial irregularities are hushed up. Thus, it can be seen that this committee, set up to make public accountability efficient, is doing the exactly the opposite. The government today is very capable of bribing the bribery commission and silencing it.”

The MP said that ministers and deputy ministers under whose purview the public enterprises found guilty by the COPE, should be here today to give answers.

“This is only a report which has no value or benefit to the people at all,” MP Handunetti said
By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip asks whether Ministers have any shame

Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga told Parliament yesterday that the government should resign from office if it accepted the contents of the report by the Committee on Public Enterprises as being true.

Participating in the adjournment debate on the COPE report, MP Amaratunga said that the report was nothing but a mirror which reflected the corruption and inefficiency of public institutions under the purview of the ministers of the government. At the helm of those institutions, listed as corrupt, were the ministers of the Cabinet. They should resign enmasse if they had any shame, he said.

Pointing out to the government side, the Chief Opposition Whip said that all Cabinet Ministers have gone home and deserted the Chairman of the COPE, Senior Minister D. E. W. Gunasekera to respond to the opposition’s questions and claims on the COPE report. There were several Ministers listed for yesterday’s debate but they too had avoided participating in the debate. At least the Member who moved the motion should have been in the House.

“I ask the government to take serious note of the contents in this report which amply elucidates the capabilities of its ministers and to resign from office,” he said.

By Saman Indrajith


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