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COPA recommends new system for LG financial administration 

The Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) on 9 February directed the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government Affairs to formulate a generally accepted system for administrative matters, including recruitment, allowances, and the use of vehicles in Local Government Authorities.

The Committee informed the Secretary to the Ministry N.H.M. Chithrananda, that the relevant general procedure should be prepared and submitted to the COPA within three months.

The Committee, chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitharana, examined the Auditor General’s reports and the performance of the Kurunegala Municipal Council (MC).

Ministers and MPs who participated in this Committee pointed out that the administration of certain Local Authorities are irregular, and that a new programme should be implemented to streamline this process. 

The Committee drew special attention to the procurement process conducted by the Kurunegala MC to purchase 221,173 polysack bags of four types from a fake institution at a cost of Rs. 6,520,089, against procurement guidelines. The Committee also questioned that even though the cheque should have been written in the name of the institution, it had been in the name of an individual. The Committee also recommended that an inquiry be conducted at the Ministry level in this regard, and a report submitted to the Committee expeditiously. The Committee also directed the Ministry to obtain a representation from the National Audit Office for this committee of inquiry.

The Committee questioned the Kurunegala Mayor regarding the fact that Rs. 7,800,000 had already been spent from the MC fund for the case regarding the demolition of the building  where the Buwaneka Hotel was located, without obtaining proper approval. The Mayor informed the Committee that the relevant approvals had been obtained for the expenditure. As the Archaeology Department has taken legal action against this incident, it was decided at the Committee to discuss further matters after the completion of this legal process.

The Committee also noted that although four audit and management committees were to be held annually, not a single committee meeting was held in 2020. One audit and management committee meeting was held in 2018, while two audit and management committee meetings were held in 2019. The Committee directed that such meetings be held expeditiously, and to streamline the proceedings of the MC.

The Committee also noted the failure to prepare an action plan and a procurement plan for the Kurunegala MC, and directed the Municipal Commissioner to take immediate action in this regard.