The parliamentary Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE) which investigated 249 government-owned institutions have found that the losses incurred by them during 2007 - 2009 exceeds a staggering Rs.19 billion, a COPE official said yesterday.
He said the loss-making institutions included the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), the State Timber Corporation (STC), Rupavahini, Lankaputhra Bank and Mihin Lanka among others.
COPE Chairman and Senior Minister D.E.W. Gunasekara said COPE had concluded its inquiries and would hold its final sittings on November 14 and 15.
“We hope to hand over the COPE report to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa before the budget so that parliament could discuss the report during the budget debate. The COPE report is based on our investigations into 249 public enterprises from August 2010 to November 2011,” the minister said.
He said he received the cooperation and assistance of all COPE members whether from the government or the opposition.
“We expect to make a few recommendations to prevent or minimise losses at public enterprises and a series of guidelines on financial and administrative guidelines. The presentation of the annual report before the second half of the following year will be mandatory for all public enterprises from next year,” the minister said.
He said another recommendation was to make all top officials and board members accountable for financial or administrative malpractices even after they had left their places of employment.
The minister said certain establishments had failed to submit their annual reports for two or three years. “The appointment of unqualified people to top management posts on political grounds and the lack of financial and administrative disciplines had ruined many of the public enterprises. One of our strong recommendations will be to appoint educated and professionally qualified people to the top management at these institutions,” he added.
The minister citing two instances of losses at state enterprises said the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) had recruited nearly 100 employees violating the accepted procedure and Finance Ministry guidelines and also without the approval of the board of directors.
“Almost all these appointments were unnecessary and has been a burden to the SLRC up to now,” he said.
The other instance was the activities at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) According to COPE, SLC has incurred a loss of more than Rs.2 billion at the time the previous interim committees were in charge.
“Most of the queries raised by the Auditor General with regard to SLC accounts for 2009 have gone unanswered and cricket officials have little or no clue on how to answer them. The SLC is a good example on how the downfall of an establishment can be brought through financial and administrative indiscipline,” the minister said. SLC officials who were summoned before the COPE had no clue as to
how payments had been made for foreign trips by top SLC officials, misappropriations of Cricket World Cup funds and of the many contracts given for the refurbishment of International Cricket Stadiums.
The COPE report is also critical on the performance of all university administrations except that of Moratuwa University.
The minister said COPE members had praised the Moratuwa University for its proper fiscal management and excellent academic performance. (Sandun A Jayasekera)