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Where are the Commission reports?

2014 Aug 22

BY KELUM BANDARA AND YOHAN PERERA


The Government has spent as much as Rs.270 million on 17 Presidential Commissions appointed between 2005 and 2013, but the reports of most of them have still not been presented to Parliament, it was revealed yesterday. Government gave these details in response to a question asked by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake on the number of Presidential Commissions appointed during the period under review, the amount of money spent on each of them and their purpose.

These Presidential Commissions were appointed to look into matters such as the assassination of TNA MP Joseph Pararajasingham, the alleged frauds in the procurement of military equipment by the Navy, the taxation policy of Sri Lanka and the discovery of a mass grave behind the Matale Base Hospital.

Mr. Dissanayake, raising a supplementary question, asked why the reports compiled by these commissions had not been presented to Parliament.

However, Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardane said there was no legal binding on the part of the government to do so.

“The government submitted some of the reports such as the one compiled by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). The reports have to be submitted to the appointing authority. The President is the appointing authority according to the law of the country. There is no legal requirement to present such reports to Parliament,” he said.

Mr. Dissanayake said the Government had spent a massive amount of money on these commissions, and therefore this Parliament, which is considered the supreme authority on governance, had every right to know of their findings. Why have the reports compiled by these Presidential Commissions not been presented to Parliament “These commissions dealt with serious matters such as some high profile killings and disappearances. Doesn’t this Parliament have any right to know what happened,” he asked.

Mr. Gunawardane responded by saying the 1978 Constitution had infringed upon the power of Parliament. “Today, Parliament does not have adequate powers. It is good that Mr. Dissanayake has noticed it,” he said.

The government had spent Rs.18 million for the LLRC; Rs.95 million for the Commission that investigated cases of serious human rights violations; Rs.25 million on the Commission that looked into the financial institutions declared bankrupt and Rs.1 million on the Commission that investigated the assassination of Mr. Pararajasingham. The Government had also spent Rs.12 million on the Commission probing military purchases from 2000 to 2005 while the Commission inquiring into the Matale mass grave was allocated Rs.7 million.

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