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HomeNewsBusinessDespite the appointment of a new chairman, COPE and COPA remain uncertain

Despite the appointment of a new chairman, COPE and COPA remain uncertain

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News Tech: The status of the new chairs of the Committee on Public Finance (CPF) and the Committee on Public Accounts is questionable, despite the selection of Dr. Harsha De Silva, a member of parliament for Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), as the new chairman of the CPF (COPA).

The chairmanship of CPF must be awarded to an opposition MP in accordance with Standing Orders of Parliament. However, this procedure was altered by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who suspended Standing Orders to allow the selection of a government MP as CPF chair.

With Kabir Hashim nominated as COPA chairman and Eran Wickramaratne as COPE chair, the SJB has asked that its MPs be selected as COPE and COPA chairpersons.

However, Standing Orders will need to be changed to clearly declare that the opposition should have the COPE and COPA chairpersonships. According to Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella, it was decided to refer these revisions to the Committee on Standing Orders for approval during a party leaders’ meeting in June that was presided over by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena. However, I was informed this week that the matter has not yet been referred to the Committee on Standing Orders when I checked.

He noted that the SJB had indicated that it will not join an all-party government but would support an all-party programme by holding chairpersonships of committees such as COPE and COPA and Parliamentary Oversight Committees. “We are awaiting instructions from the President and PM on this but we expect a final decision will be made by next week,” he added.

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Meanwhile, former Minister Dullas Alahapperuma has written to Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena protesting over the removal of him and several SLPP MPs who had supported his presidential bid from several Parliament Committees. Mr Alahapperuma notes in his letter that both he and SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris have been removed from the Committee on Parliamentary Business while MPs Dr Nalaka Godahewa and Dilan Perera have been removed from the Committee on Public Finance.

Members have so far only been announced for the Committee on Parliamentary Business and the Committee on Public Finance. Mr Alahapperuma however, says he has learned that former COPE Chairman Prof. Charitha Herath too is to be removed from the new COPE Committee allegedly for supporting him.

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