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Advocata calls for AG Dept. representation at COPE proceedings

Welcoming a recommendation to include representatives of the Attorney General’s (AG) Department at future Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) proceedings, Advocata Institute, a Colombo based free market think tank, urged the Government yesterday to prioritise the suggestion.

COPE Chairman MP Sunil Handunnetti had requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya last Wednesday (23) to allow officers from the AG’s Department to observe COPE proceedings in order to expedite the accountability of those responsible.

Citing Finance Ministry figures released last year, Advocata said in a statement that Sri Lanka’s debt amounts to 82.9 percent of GDP. The think noted noted that with domestic debt amounting to 41.6 percent of GDP, the Treasury cannot bail out the loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

“Currently, Sri Lanka’s debt amounts to 82.9% of GDP (Ministry of Finance Annual Report, 2018, Provisional Data). With domestic debt amounting to 41.6% of GDP (Ministry of Finance Annual Report, 2018), our treasury cannot sustain annually bailing out loss-making SOEs. Advocata strongly believes that Sri Lanka needs to reduce waste that happens by way of SOE losses, corruption and monumental investments with a poor rate of return,” the statement said.

“The COPE is a key committee that oversees SOEs in Sri Lanka. The duty of the Committee is to examine the accounts of the Public Corporations and of any business undertaking vested in the government. The third report of the COPE highlights that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation made substantial losses of Rs. 105 billion in 2018. Furthermore, it also reveals that losses made by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board amounted to Rs. 505 million and losses made by the Elkaduwa Plantation Limited amounted to Rs. 33 million,” it added.

Advocata further urged the Government to open the committee proceedings to non-parliamentarians, especially for technical experts to bring in industry knowledge and scrutiny. 

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