COPE will intend to carry out investigations of the universities and submit the reports to parliament.-  Sunil Handunnetti

The Chairman of the CoPE Committee Sunil Handunnetti said the investigations conducted by them had been done fairly and without any bias. The government has so far failed to take tangible measures to address these issues.

Q. According to the recently presented by the Committee on Public Enterprises (CoPE) the corruption of state institutions was exposed. What is the reason for such corruption to happen?

A: State institutions come under investigation as these are institutions that run with public funds and they are accountable to the people. Upon investigating their accounts, all corruption and fraud can be exposed. The investigation of 15 state institutions carried out during a period of four months was put into a report by CoPE. However, we have investigated around 70 state institutions in total.
 
Q. What are the other state institutions that have been investigated?

A: We have received a large number of investigations that have to be conducted, but these cannot be finished by this year. We have given priority to the main institutions. We will investigate almost all the universities. We intend to carry out investigations of the universities and submit the reports to parliament.

Q. While the CoPE Committee is conducting these investigations and submitting these reports, are you, as the Chairman of the CoPE Committee satisfied with the response of the government and do you think they are taking it seriously enough?

A: Let alone taking it seriously; there is doubt whether the government is even looking at these reports under the available powers. The Speaker, Finance Ministry Secretary and Auditor General were called and a meeting was held at the parliament as to what happens to the CoPE Committee report and the Audit Committee reports. But, it is regrettable that nothing is done beyond the reports to address these issues.
 
Q. As the Chairman of the CoPE Committee can you certify that these CoPE Committee reports are 100 percent accurate and impartial?

A: I can guarantee that these investigations and reports are done impartially and accurately. However, there is also room for those who criticise it to give their input.
 
Q. There is wind that you are to be removed from the CoPE Committee. Is this true?

A: I have no clue as I myself read it in the newspapers. The government does not have the power to remove me from this position as and when they please. This is because the government does not have such powers. The CoPE Committee Chairman is appointed under the powers vested with the parliament.
 
Q. Apart from the CoPE Committee, the budget is round the corner. What wind have you received regarding this budget and do you plan to support it?

A:That cannot be speculated without seeing the budget

Q. Is the JVP ready to face any election?

A:  We have no problem as we have served the people whether there was an election or not. We are ready to face any election at any given time because we are with the people and committed to serving the people of this country.

Q. On the subject of elections, while the dates are set for the Provincial Council elections in January, there is also some talk of it being postponed again. Is this true?

A: The government is afraid of an election which means the government is afraid of the people. The government always went in for elections only if it was favourable to them. However, now the government is forced to hold the elections even in a situation that is unfavourable to them. Corruption is rife, the Bond investigations loom and the cost of living has increased drastically. Further the SLFP has split into two factions. The villages have deteriorated. But the government may have an idea of postponing the elections. But, our stand is that the election should not be delayed even by a day and it should be held on the decided date. We will force the government to keep to its word.
 
Q. Under the new electoral system the number of council members will almost double. This in turn will bring in many other issues such as space problems, extra costs for wages etc.  Dont you think a proper mechanism is required to deal with these issues?

A: It is easy for the people to choose their candidates and it is also easier for the candidates. Instead of high propaganda expenses under the new system it will enable participation within a smaller unit. This will break that system where only those who can spend can contest and afford to win by spending. What the people need to do is not to vote for the corrupt and undesirables and instead choose their representatives wisely. The people need only worry about rogues being appointed. More good people who will work for the people is not something that people need to worry about. Therefore people must choose good people to be appointed to serve them.

- AshWaru Colombo

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