Colombo-based think tank Advocata, which promotes free market principles, yesterday urged the government to prioritise a suggestion to include the Attorney General’s Department representatives at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) proceedings.
The third report of the COPE was presented to Parliament on October 23, 2019.
While presenting the latest report, its Chairman MP Sunil Handunnetti requested the speaker to allow the Attorney General’s Department representatives to observe the proceedings of the COPE, in efforts to expedite the accountability of those responsible.
“Advocata welcomes the recommendation to include representatives of the Attorney General’s Department at the Committee on Public Enterprises proceedings and urges the government to prioritise this suggestion,” Advocata said in a statement.
According to the Finance Ministry annual report 2018, Sri Lanka’s debt amounts to 82.9 percent of GDP. Advocata pointed out that with domestic debt amounting to 41.6 percent of GDP, the Treasury cannot bail out the loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs) year after year.
Advocata said it strongly believes Sri Lanka needs to reduce the waste that happens by way of SOE losses, corruption and monumental investments with poor rate of return.
The COPE is a key committee that oversees the SOEs in Sri Lanka and its duty is to examine the accounts of the public corporations and of any business undertaking
vested in the government.
The third report of the COPE highlighted that Ceylon Petroleum Corporation made substantial losses of Rs.105 billion in 2018. It also revealed that the losses made by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board amounted to Rs.505 million and the losses made by Elkaduwa Plantation Limited amounted to Rs.33 million.
Since the opening of the COPE proceedings to the media in August 2019, there has been a significant increase in the scrutiny of the conduct and financials of the loss-making SOEs, in the mainstream discussions.
This has promoted the transparency of the hearings as well as the accountability of the respective SOEs and the COPE.