FULL DAY DEBATES ON PRECIFAC, COPE REPORTS

Parliament is to take up full-day adjournment debates next week on the PRECIFAC and COPE reports. The TNA is to move an adjournment motion on February 5 on the PRECIFAC report,

while the JVP is to move an adjournment motion on February 8 on the COPE report which was tabled in Parliament last Thursday.

Party Leaders, who met last Friday, decided to facilitate full-day debates on the above adjournment motions. The report of the Presidential Commission of inquiry to investigate and inquire into the serious acts of fraud, corruption and abuse of power, state resources and privileges (PRCIFAC) was tabled in Parliament in January last year.

Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Chairman Sunil Handunnetti tabled the first COPE report for the third session of eighth Parliament last Thursday detailing its probes into 17 public enterprises including the Sri Lankan Airlines, Paddy Marketing Board, Sri Lanka Transport Board, and the Road Development Authority.

The PRECIFAC which was appointed on March 3, 2015 submitted its final report on January 2, 2018.

The report, which deals with 34 specific cases, has named the wrongdoers in each case and has also recommended action against them.

Non-payment of money to the ITN for campaign advertisements of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the run up to 2015 Presidential polls, Negombo Lagoon Development project, leasing of Vidanagamage Shopping Complex in Mahiyanganaya, Avant Garde, Sri Lankan Catering and Sri Lankan Airlines, expenses incurred for the water filling ceremony of Hambantota Port (Karadiyawara Mangalya), abuse of public funds and resources by former Minister Basil Rajapaksa, frauds and irregularities at the Udarata Development Authority, Deyata Kirula Exhibition in 2013, corruption related to renovation of Tsunami Warning Towers etc. are among the 34 cases in the PRECIFAC.

The PRECIFAC report was tabled in Parliament along with the Bond Commission report, and a special parliament sitting was convened on February 6, 2018 to debate the two reports. Following a day’s debate, it was decided to be continued on February 20, but Parliament put it off after TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran complained of non-availability of English or Tamil translations of the PRECIFAC report. The UPFA MPs at that point accused MP Sumanthiran of trying to stall the debate.

The translations of the PRECIFAC report have been completed and therefore the TNA has decided to move an adjournment debate on it.

The debate comes hot on the heel of Parliament passing new legislation to empower the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) to file cases based on facts revealed by Commissions of Inquiry. In the meantime, President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed a new CoI to probe allegations of large scale corruption and fraud between January 15, 2015 and December 31, 2018. The new Commission is said to be the next step of the PRECIFAC.

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