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World Bank boost for PAC, COPE

COLOMBO: The World Bank has come forward with a US $ 494,000 financial assistance package to strengthen and enhance capacity of the two parliamentary committees on Public Account (PAC) and Public Enterprises (COPE).

This was revealed at a media briefing at the Parliament premises yesterday which was jointly chaired by the PAC Chairman, Minister of Mass Media and Information Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and COPE Chairman Minister of Power and Energy W.D.J. Senevirathne.

Describing the role of the two committees, Minister Senevirathne said while PAC exercises oversight in the financial performance of Government Institutions, COPE had been established to ensure the observance of financial discipline in Public Corporations and other Semi Governmental bodies in which the Government has a financial stake.

The financial assistance which comes as a donor package is expected to enhance capacity of the two committees with regard to obtaining documents\relevant material, interactive workshops, train manpower and obtain advice and the conduct of awareness programmes.

According to Minister Senevirathne, US $ 284,000 would be utilised to propagate matters pertaining to training officials and obtaining advice with interactive workshops, seminars, recruitment etc. being organised to build capacity.

Another US $ 10,000 is to be spent on obtaining material, documents etc. Another US $ 200,000 would be utilised to conduct awareness programmes and educationary workshops for relevant officers, the Minister said.

Underlining the importance of the two committees which is in the forefront of ensuring fairplay in matters pertaining to utilising public funds on Government and Semi Government Institutions, the Minister said with this World Bank assistance the two Committees would be developed in accordance with the highest international standards. The World Bank has also appointed a new Advisor to guide during the effort, the Minister added.

The duty of the COPE is to report to Parliament on accounts examined, budgets and estimates, financial procedures, performance and management of corporations and other government business undertakings. The accounts of these organisations are audited by the Auditor-General and form the basis of the investigations of the Committee.

It has the power to summon the relevant officials and such other people as it thinks fit to obtain evidence and call for documents. The Committee reports to Parliament and the recommendations contained in their reports are deemed to be directives to the respective Corporations or Statutory Boards for compliance.

The PACís task is to probe the managerial efficiency and financial discipline of the Government, its Ministries, Departments, Provincial Councils and Local Authorities.

The duty of the PAC is to examine the sums voted by Parliament along with the report of the Auditor-General. In the course of its deliberations, the Committee obtains evidence from the Secretaries to the respective Ministries, who are the Chief Accounting Officers, Heads of Departments and other responsible officers.

The Committee also regularly summons Directors-General of Public Finance, State Accounts and National Budget or their nominated representatives

It is the duty of the Chief Accounting Officers to personally appear before the Committee to explain and justify the financial activities of the Departments under the purview of their Ministries. The recommendations of the Committee may contain directives to Government Departments and Ministries and such directives are deemed to be those of Parliament. Copies of Committee reports are distributed among Officers of the Ministries, Departments, Provincial Councils and Local Authorities.



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