Bribery Commission has suspended investigations Wijeyadasa Rajapakse
By KELUM BANDARA AND YOHAN PERERA
May 9, 2012

The Bribery Commission had arbitrarily suspended investigations into financial irregularities and malpractices at a number of public enterprises -- which the Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE) had unearthed in 2007 -said UNP MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse in Parliament yesterday.

Mr. Rajapakse, who had been chairman of COPE at the time, said that he had submitted two separate reports to Parliament (on January 12, 2007 and August 24, 2007) and that both reports had been approved by Parliament. In them COPE had outlined measures that should be taken against the authorities of certain public enterprises.

"We recommended further investigations by the CID and the Bribery Commission. Accordingly, the then Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara, at our request, ordered the Commission to submit reports to the House once in every two weeks on the progress of their investigations. Yet the Commission has stopped doing this," he said.

Mr. Rajapakse, who is also the chairman of Sri Lanka Bar Association, said that the police officer who was in charge of the investigations had been transferred to Ampara without any valid reason, and it led to a halt in the investigations. He said that the director general of the Bribery Commission had also been transferred, and this, too, had struck a blow to the investigations. Therefore, he asked Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to take steps to revive the investigations. Referring to two public interest litigations that had been filed on the basis of these findings, he said that the government had been able to take over the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and 1100 acres of land within the port area.

"If not for COPE, we could not have taken back these valuable assets for the use of the general public," he said.

He also faulted the COPE report submitted to Parliament on December 1, 2011 under the chairmanship of Senior Minister D.E.W. Gunasekara, for blaming the ministry secretaries alone for the misappropriations.

"It is unfair by the ministry secretaries. There are ministers acting above them. We know there are some good secretaries. If you blame the ministry secretaries alone for the corruption, you will indirectly whitewash the subject ministers," he said.

Commenting on the composition of COPE, he said that in countries with developed democracies ministers and deputy ministers were not appointed to such committees.

"In Sri Lanka, we have done away with this democratic tradition. When ministers are appointed as members of watchdog committees, they will not be interested in carrying out investigations into cases at the institutions coming under them," he said.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka