Govt Has Made COPE A Toothless Body And DEW A Mere Actor: UNP

UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Kirirella said yesterday that the government has made COPE a toothless body and there is no way to investigate into the findings of the COPE report.

“With the abolition of independent committees that were set up under the 17th Amendment to the constitution, there is no way to conduct an independent inquiry into COPE findings. The present government is fully responsible for that,” UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella said addressing a press conference in Colombo.

He added that Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera, who presently heads COPE, had underscored financial malpractices and losses amounting to Rs. 500 billion.

“But it is naïve to believe that there would be an independent investigation into such allegations. Minister Gunasekera has turned himself into an actor. He displays the COPE report and stages a “drama” every year without any substantial outcome,” Kiriella said.

He also added that when the UNP was in power, an opposition politician was appointed as the Chairman of COPE to ensure transparency.

“The late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who was then a Parliamentarian of the opposition, was appointed as the head of COPE and we were forced to answer his questions. It made the committee a robust body that could into bribery and corruption allegations, “the Parliamentarian pointed out.

“In 2010,” he said, “we urged the government to appoint an opposition politician to head the COPE committee. But our requests did not bear fruit,” he said.

“What happened to the findings of the committee report prepared by MP Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa? Did the government conduct an inquiry into its findings and punish perpetrators who were behind financial malpractices,” Kiriella asked.

He asserted that the government should take strong measures to strengthen the COPE committee and restore faith in the COPE report.

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