Was Sri Lanka Cricket trying to bamboozle COPE, asks Rajiva

UPFA National List MP Rajiva Wijesinha who spoke during the debate on the COPE report last Tuesday in Parliament revealed that when he was going through hundreds of pages that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had submitted to the Committee, he had found that many of them were duplicates while there were some blank pages that claimed to be extracts of meetings or a true copy of a letter of a Minister.
“They were just blank. I do not know if all that was sent by Sri Lanka Cricket in an attempt to pile up so many pages so that no one would be able to go through them or want to. I do not know if the COPE office photocopied those indiscriminately on the grounds that they had time enough and Parliament, money enough to waste,” Dr. Wijesinha said.

He said that this type of material should be sifted, if necessary with the help of the Office of the Auditor-General that is housed in Parliament and only what is relevant should be sent to COPE. “There is no need for us to have duplicates, blank sheets and the biographical details of the entire Wayamba Cricket Team. We need executive level support in Parliament and not mechanical copying and collating,” he added.

Dr.Wijesinha said he hoped that the Parliamentary administration will take this to heart and give the Committee a much better service. The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) of which Dr. Wijesinha is also a member found that there were several financial irregularities and weaknesses in the manner in which the finances of SLC is being handled when it summoned its officials for inquiry.

The committee found that SLC did not have either a corporate plan or an action plan. It was also found that the initial estimate for the construction of three playgrounds namely those at Hambantota, Pallekele and Kettarama was Rs. 3.3 billion but the total expenditure had been Rs. 7.18 billion.

Meanwhile Dr. Wijesinha paid a tribute to officers at the Auditor-General’s Department for producing reports with great professionalism and helpfulness. “Whilst they have to draw attention to all irregularities, they have also been able to discriminate between those that are trivial and those which are serious, indicating that remedial or disciplinary action must be taken at once and where the regulations should be changed,” he said.

DEW gets tough with CIABOC
By Chandani Kirinde

A conflict has arisen between the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) over the prosecution of wrongdoers mentioned in the COPE report.

COPE Chairman, Senior Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera has threatened to summon the CIABOC officials before the parliamentary oversight committee, but CIABOC Chairman, Rtd. Justice S. Balapatabendi told the Sunday Times yesterday that the Commission cannot act on the COPE report until the Speaker forwards the Report to them.

Under the Bribery Act, the Bribery and Corruption Commission can act only on a complaint made to it and cannot initiate investigations. Rtd. Justice Balabatabendi said the last report of COPE that was forwarded to the CIABOC was the 2007 Report, but that was during the tenure of the previous commission. “The present commissioners were appointed only a year ago,” he added.

Meanwhile, COPE Chairman D.E.W. Gunasekera said during a debate on the Report, which was tabled in Parliament in December last year, that he would have to summon officials of the CID and the CIABOC if they don’t act on the findings of the Report.

“If the CID and Bribery Commission (CIABOC) fail to take action against those who had been found responsible and make further investigations, COPE will summon the heads of the CID and CIABOC and question them,” he said.

Minister Gunasekera also said that six chairmen of State sector corporations and statutory bodies have been sacked by the President, on the findings of the COPE Report, but did not say if legal action had been taken against them for violation of financial regulations.

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