It is reported that the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE)
Report and the Auditor General’s Department have been directed to the Attorney General’s Department today. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe recently told Parliament that the COPE report will be directed to the Attorney General’s Department for future initiatives. A Senior Officer of the Prime Minister’s Office when contacted said that the COPE Report was handed over to the Attorney General’s Department today.
COPE was set up on 21st June1979. 224 subjects of Ministries and state institutions excluding State Departments come under the purview of COPE. The Committee on Public Accounts examining the financial activities of Ministries and State Departments. The Committee on Public Accounts was set up on 26th October 1921 and is the oldest Parliamentary Committee in Sri Lanka. It is also akin to COPE.
The 26 Members of Parliament are appointed to COPE and its Chairman is elected from among these members. Mostly the COPE head is selected from the Opposition. There had been 14 Chairmen including Sunil Handunnetti, the incumbent COPE Chairman. Recommendations are being made by COPE on any corruption or irregularity. It cannot perform the duties of a Police or a judiciary. The Speaker directs the COPE Report for necessary legal action once it is tabled in Parliament.
The Prime Minister gave a firm assurance to Parliament that the COPE Report on the Central Bank Bond issue would be directed to the Attorney General’s Department for future action. Accordingly this report and the Auditor General’s Report were directed to the Attorney General’s Department today. A spate of various accusations were made with respect to the Central Bank when considering the past history. However, not a single occasion in history had a formal inquiry held and proper action initiated.
It is a prudent decision taken by the Prime Minister to direct the COPE Report on the Central Bank Bond issue to the Attorney General’s Department. Hitherto no COPE Reports have been presented to Parliament. Accusations were made in Parliament that the COPE Report was even used on certain occasions to protect the accused. It is recorded in history how Parliamentarians such as Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa who was a COPE Chairman last his party membership.
Political analysts point out that inquiries on the COPE Report with respect to the Central Bank Bond issue being directed for inquiries is an example of the Good Governance administration, particularly when considering how Parliamentary Committee particularly during the previous regime was used for political gains.