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COPA proposes linking of Customs, Motor Traffic networks

Prevention of vehicle registration fraud:

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has proposed to link the computer networks of the Customs Department and Motor Traffic Department to prevent frauds committed by feeding false information into the database at the registration of vehicles.

The COPA in its second report tabled in Parliament yesterday paid attention to the discrepancies in registering vehicles and value assessment of vehicles.

The report that includes findings on 36 institutions summoned before the Committee from May 4 to October 28, 2016 was tabled by COPA Chairman Lasantha Alagiyawanna.

The report noted with concern that the Department of Motor Traffic has not yet been able to trace 564 misplaced motor vehicle files. “The Auditor General’s Department pointed out that only 33 files have been received so far in response to the order given to submit 597 files and in addition to that any of the information asked for has not even been submitted,” the report stated.

The Committee has directed the Chief Accounting Officer to submit a report within a month indicating the methodology adopted to trace the remaining files and a specific time line in that regard.

The COPA has found out that an officer involved in the questionable activities has been appointed as the Head of the Committee appointed to investigate the disappearance of vehicle files.

The Motor Traffic Department was summoned before the Committee for four times in the year 2016 due to poor performance. The Committee has warned that it would report to the President and Prime Minister if the Department failed to show positive developments.

The COPA has also revealed that the information of 164 vehicles do not match with the documents of the Customs. Inquired by the Committee on the incident of registering seven new Prado Jeeps in a fraudulent manner using the Customs Notes for importation of hand tractors, Accounting Officer has stated that the advice of the Attorney General has been sought to cancel the registration of aforesaid vehicles. The COPA has given directions to complete the disciplinary inquiries against the officers who are connected to this incident within one year.

The COPA in its report also observed that a loss of Rs.7.7 million had been incurred to the Government due to the undervaluing of two BMW M-5 vehicles with a cylinder capacity of 4395 CC. The Department has informed that an inquiry in this connection was in progress and had agreed to submit a report in that regard to the Committee.

The Committee also observed that the tax loss caused by the import of 407 Prado type vehicles was approximately Rs.3 billion. However, the Accounting Officer of the Department had denied the occurrence of any loss, adding that a special committee appointed by the President was investigating on the matter.

The Committee has also found a large number of questionable financial transactions in Provincial Councils and Local Government bodies.

Alagiyawanna presenting the report in the House urged serious attention to the recommendations in it and take steps to debate the report in Parliament.