Eran Wickramaratne MP for SJB commenting on the privatization of state enterprises said that people still presenting obsolete opinion that SoEs belong to the government and cannot be allowed to be sold,

which is a completely wrong opinion advocated around fifty years ago. Government wealth and properties are the assets of the people, what are the benefits of being having them, if there are no benefits to the people who are the real owners of them. If there are no benefits, the government should be responsible for them.

Wickramaratne made this observation when he addressed parliament yesterday (02) on the debate on Banking Amendment Bill.

He further said that Middle Eastern countries have developed today because they sold in their oil resource for further development by joining hands with US firms.

“As a banker, 20 years ago, I maintained that our phosphate deposits should be sold out. If such resources are not sold on time, there will come a time when the benefits will be lost. Today, instead of using oil to generate electricity, the use of water, wind power and solar has increased through renewable methods.”

Wickramaratne explained that public enterprises as well as other assets should be used to get the maximum benefit to the people of Sri Lanka.

Further speaking he said that purpose of the COPE committee is to look into the efficiency of public enterprises and look into the audit reports.

After the study, the COPE committee submits a report to the Parliament, and beyond that, nothing useful happen about the irregularities raised by the CORP committee.

Since the Parliament does nothing on the COPE report, there is an opinion in the country that the CORP committee is just a talk shop, he said.

In order to change this opinion of the people, when any irregularity or corruption is found, COPE Committee be given the power to refer it directly to the Bribery Commission or the Attorney General for illegal action.

The opposition brought proposals to amend the Standing Orders to this effect, but the present government left no room for it.

“When proposals were brought to change the Standing Orders and increase the powers of the COPE Committee, the government did not like the proposal. That is why the COPE Committee has been popularized as just a talk shop.” he said.

Today, we have presented provisions through this bill to specify the qualifications and disqualifications of the executive officers and directors appointed to the banks.

One of the main responsibilities of the COPE committee is to look into the functioning and management of the banks. This banking law should have
been introduced not as an amendment but a new law.

A new law was made in 2004, but it was not brought. He also emphasized that like to the banks, qualifications and disqualifications should be specified for those who aspires to be the members of the COPE, he said.



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