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Saturday January 28th, 2023

Advocata lauds opening of COPE to media

Advocata is saying the opening of the hearings of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) to the media is a timely initiative in a greater attempt to promote transparency and accountability of State-Owned Enterprises.

In a statement, Advocata, a Colombo based think tank, commended the decision of Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya for officially announcing the ceremony to mark the opening of the COPE sessions to the media.

The COPE is a key committee that oversees State-Owned Enterprises (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.

Although their reports thus far have lacked comprehensiveness, they have examined a limited number of issues in a few institutions, and are a devastating critique on the state of governance. 

Advocata Institute’s 2019 report, “The State of State Enterprises: Systemic Misgovernance,” highlighted the imminent need of strengthening the COPE and COPA (Committee on Public Accounts; the second financial committee whose duty is to examine the accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by Parliament to meet the public expenditure). 

The report recommended that COPE and COPA proceedings be opened to the media and the public in efforts to enhance the transparency of financial management of public institutions and hold state institutions to account. 

Advocata Institute urges that further reform be considered seriously in efforts to improve structural failings and misgovernance that promote a breeding ground for corruption in Sri Lanka’s state sector.

“We insist that the government opens committee proceedings to non- parliamentarians;  specifically for technical experts, to bring in industry knowledge and scrutiny,” the statement added.

“State-owned enterprises are a vehicle of large scale corruption in Sri Lanka that hasn’t caught public attention. Advocata’s latest report on SOEs highlights some of these abuses documented by COPE.” 

“Adocata’s 2019 report on The State of State-Owned Enterprises, highlights some of these abuses documented by COPE. Opening meetings to the public is a good first step to ensure that people understand the massive abuses by SOEs done by using taxpayer money! We urge the government to consider further reform to strengthen COPE and promote accountability of SOEs,” said Dhananath Fernando, Chief Operating Officer of the Advocata Institute.

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Sri Lanka utility to continue power cuts, regulator says no

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has decided to continue power cuts, as the dry season hits the country despite orders to give 24 hours of power.

The utility said its Board “has decided to continue the demand management programme” and it has informed the regulator of this decision on January 27.

The Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka said it had not approved the power cuts “as it violate and affect the rights of 331,000 students sitting for the Advanced Level exams.”

Sri Lanka’s CEB has high running costs due to long term scuttling of planned coal plants by activists and lastly President Maithripala Sirisena.

‘CEB’s costs went up as demand went up since the last coal plant opening and steady collapse of the currency from 131 to 182 to the US dollar due to open market operations unleashed to suppress rates and operate a flexible inflation targeting by the central bank.

Even more aggressive liquidity injections after 2020 to target an output gap then busted the currency from 182 to 360 to the US dollar.

CEB has to use extra fuel from around February to April 2022 as the dry season hits reducing hydro power.

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission has ordered the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation to supply fuel and banks to give credit for extra power.

Power Minister Kanchana Wijesekera has alleged that CPC officials agreed under duress and threat of jail sentence to supply fuel.

The CEB has to cut power in case demand outstrips supply to maintain frequency at 50 Hz to avoid cascading failures, according to sector analysts. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka president suspends parliament till Feb 08

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has suspended parliament till February 08, according to a gazette notice.

Parliament will re-convene at 1000 am on January 08.

President Wickremesinghe told party leaders that he would make a speech, officially declaring his intention to give effect to the 13th amendment to the constitution on provincial councils.

Provincial councils, a power sharing arrangement backed by India as a solution to the ethnic Tamil have not yet been given police and land powers. (Colombo/Jan28/2023)

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Sri Lanka expects influx of global twins

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s expecting thousands twins and non-twin visitors including at least thirty contestants for a Twins Miss and Mr World 2023 contest, where they will join their counterparts in the country.

“We expect upwards of 4000 participants to arrive in the country for the event,” Founder and Chairperson Vice President Global Twins Multiple Birth Forum, Upuli Gamage told reporters.

“And we very much hope that this number will keep going up in the years to come.”

The country amidst an economic crisis is celebrating the Twins Miss & Mr World 2023 for the first time in the World in Sri Lanka to grab the attention of more than 30 countries.

Prospective Sri Lankan twins can apply for the local contest to be held in May. Winners will go the international event in July.

Twins contests are being held in 30 other countries and three participants will come from each country, according to the organizers.

“This event helps to build a positive image of the country while grabbing the attention of 50 countries,” Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Chalaka Gajabahu said.

“And I heard this can be go as a World record to the genus book, that will give country free PR, free digital media marketing, free social media marketing.”

The Sri Lankan Twins Organization along with the tourism authority has initiated this program including twins of this country as a promotional campaign in hopes of bringing in foreign revenue.

There will be series of events commencing from July 24 to 31 including a business forum for investors to interact. Visitors fro 30 countries are expected.

“Countries like Japan do such programs often and we too should, to grab foreign attention,” Consul General to Japan, Sunil Gamage said.

“This will help to build International bonds. This is an opportunity to bring investors.” (Colombo/Jan27/2022)

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