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Parliament’s powers are being challenged by Public Enterprises – Prof Herath

Norochcholai coal plant
Lakvijaya power plant comes under fire from Parliament

ECONOMYNEXT – The Chairman of Parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprise Prof Charitha Herath is complaining that investigating the workings of these enterprises is sometimes challenged by these bodies.

Making a statement to Parliament on the first session of the Ninth COPE, Herath said that the “powers of Parliament to oversee Public Accounts are being challenged.”

He said an example is the Audit Report concerning the Lakvijaya Power Plant at Norochcholai in Puttalam.

The power plant, Sri Lanka’s largest and most expensive, has been plagued by failures and the former Deputy Minister of Power and Energy Ajith P Perera has been quoted as saying that the plant has been built with sub-standard material.

The Coal-fired plant is also not popular with the local people because of pollution from its coal fires.

COPE member, Opposition Member of Parliament S M Marikkar observed that some government institutions were breaking legally permitted estimates for expenses.

“We have to pay special attention to this issue,” he urged Parliament.

“The fact that some government organisations are not audited by the Auditor-General’s Department is also a major issue,” he added.

Government MP Premanath C Dolawatte said that COPE was functioning in a non-political non-partisan manner.

He added the relevant government agencies were not carrying out the directions given to them by COPE as well as the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA).

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene said that these are issues that have to be presented as amendments to a future Constitution of the country. (Colombo, March 10, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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