Strong displeasure of the COPE Committee regarding the statement of the Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment with regard to the Auditor General, parliment stated in a press release.
A decision to inform the President
A complaint to the speaker
A special report to Parliament
A decision to re-summon the ministry secretary on the 17th
A special meeting of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) was held recently (05) under the chairmanship of the Hon. Member of Parliament Prof. Ranjith Bandara.
There, attention was drawn to the following three points.
- Appointing 12 members for four sub-committees with the aim of expanding the activities of the COPE and actively involving its members in the committee activities.
- Determining which institutions should be summoned to the COPE in 2023 and which institutions should be followed up on those currently summoned. For that, the committee agreed to work under the guidance of the Auditor General. It was also decided to conduct field visits to those institutions if necessary.
- Discussing the challenging and severe criticism with regard to the office of the Auditor General and the powers of the COPE by the Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment, Hon. Manusha Nanayakkara, at the official ceremony held for the “National Productivity Awards” on December 22, 2022 under the patronage of the Hon. Prime Minister.
The Auditor General had informed the COPE in a letter about the severe criticism made by the Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment Hon. Manusha Nanayakkara with regard to the powers of the Auditor General and the COPE.
The Auditor General pointed out that, although he stated as a Member of Parliament as well as a cabinet minister, the Committee on Public Enterprises established through the parliamentary system to strengthen the financial control of the Parliament has not exceeded its powers and has not provided any support for doing so.
Furthermore, the Auditor General further pointed out that statements made in a manner that violates the trust of the public sector, public representatives and the general public in the implementation of the tasks and duties assigned to the Auditor General by the Constitution and other written laws are highly harmful to the expectations of parliamentary financial control.
Accordingly, the following proposals and decisions were presented by the committee after a lengthy discussion on this matter.
1. The statement of the Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment is a wrong precedent and the Committee expressed its strong displeasure. In this regard, the Committee decided to express its regret to the Auditor General and his staff.
2. Making a complaint to the Hon. Speaker regarding this statement.
3. Inform the Hon. President in writing about the executive’s interference in the legislative process through this statement.
4. Sending a copy of it to the Cabinet and the the Prime Minister.
5. Inform the Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Foreign Employment in a letter to submit the progress of implementation of the recommendations given in the last COPE meeting within two days and to appear before the COPE on the 17th. Also, re-state to the Secretary of the ministry that the recommendations remain in effect.
6. Tabling of a special report in the Parliament based on the discussion notes of the previous COPE meetings related to the Foreign Employment Bureau.
7. The committee also drew attention to the summoning sensitive institutions, especially financial institutions in the current economic situation.
State Ministers Hon. Jagath Pushpakumara, Hon. Janaka Vakkambura, Hon. Lohan Ratwatte, Hon. Shantha Bandara, Members of Parliament Hon. Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Hon. Nalin Bandara, Hon. Mujibur Rahman, Hon. Jagath Kumara Sumitraarachchi, Hon. Premnat C Dolawatta, Hon. Upul Mahendra Rajapaksa, Hon. Shanakkian Rasamanikkam, Hon. Rajika Wickramasinghe, Hon. Madhura Withanage and Hon. (Prof.) Charita Herath were present at the meeting held.