Sri Lanka has sacrificed roughly 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth as a consequence of corruption, according to top economist Prof. A.D.V. de S. Indraratna. Further, he added that this was according to data put forward by the 2007 Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) report.
At the same time, commenting on the 2011 COPE report, he stated: "In a matter of about 15 months, the D.E.W. Gunasekera Committee comprising 31 members including the Chairman, under its Main and three Sub-Committees, had examined 229 public sector institutes or institutions, 37 of which were loss-making.
They had identified and / or discussed around 900 acts of irregularity, waste or corruption... Sri Lanka Cricket, universities, Bank of Ceylon, BOI and Consumer Affairs Authority were the worst culprits, with BOI having to face examination of 26 acts and CAA 20."
And, while saying that the 2011 COPE committee "should be commended," he continued that the committee had, unfortunately, been unable to put a figure to the current cost of corruption for Sri Lanka.
Prof. Indraratna's comments were made at the recently held "COPE Exposure and Beyond" public panel discussion organised by Transparency International Sri Lanka, in which he was joined by 2007 COPE Chairman Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and 2011 COPE member Rajiva Wijesinha.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rajapakshe revealed that the January and August 2007 COPE reports that were submitted under his tenure examined 46 public sector enterprises and found corruption in 16 of them. He further noted that the 2007 COPE report found corruption running into Rs. 300 billion, out of a total 2007 government revenue of about Rs. 760 billion.
However, while the 2007 COPE report was unanimously adopted by the entire parliament, with nobody refuting its allegations, investigations by bribery and corruption officials were stalled after three or four months by officials being transferred, COPE itself was also sidelined by the head of the committee post remaining vacant for a number of years. Mr. Rajapakshe also went on to add that, eventually, the 2007 COPE reports led to individuals petitioning the Supreme Court regarding corruption in privatisation of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and Lanka Marine Services, which had been subsequently reversed, giving the government back Rs. 300 billion worth of assets. (JH)