The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) will recommend to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to bring amendments to the standing orders of Parliament to give powers to the COPE to summon former heads and board members of public enterprises and take action against them on financial and administrative irregularities during their time, a senior source of the COPE said.
Chairman of the COPE, Senior Minister D.E.W. Gunasekara told Daily Mirror that the COPE has also recommended that cabinet ministers must prepare a set of guidelines for the appointment of heads and board members of state ventures and make the Secretary of the relevant Ministry - the chief accounting officer- accountable for irregularities at public ventures under the purview of the respective ministry.
“We have found during our inquiries that heads and board members of public enterprises attempt to get away by putting the responsibility of the failures of public ventures on previous administrations. This has become the popular practice of current management and the ultimate looser is the government. Therefore, we want to put an end to this distressing trend and make all responsible - now and in the past- accountable for the down fall of any public venture,” Minister Gunasekara emphasized.
He added that there were many instances where board members and heads of commercial ventures have been appointed solely on their political patronage and not considering any experience of academic qualifications on finance or administration and hence the guidelines.
The COPE has registered a landmark in the history of the legislature having examined audited accounts of over 120 enterprises and their performance up to now. It expects to complete the inquiries on the entire 249 public corporations, statutory boards, commissions, institutes and universities by August.
Ironically, the maximum number of enterprises the previous COPEs have examined during their probes was only 25.
Mr. Gunasekara said the COPE will submit its final report to Parliament with its recommendations shortly.
However, Minister Gunasekara conceded that there was a marked improvement in submitting annual report. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)