COPE quizzes PUCSL officials

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The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) questioned the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) officials as to why it rented a “Benz” car manufactured in the year 2005 without fuel or driver from a company called General Business (Private) Ltd without entering into any agreement for a period of one year from 7 December 2021, and ordered an investigation be conducted and a full report be submitted to the committee.

It was revealed that the annual rent for this vehicle was Rs 4.5 million and on 31 May 2022, Rs 2.18 million had been paid to the aforesaid company.

However, COPE questioned the fact that the files regarding the hiring of this vehicle were not submitted for audit, recommendations were given to hire a 15-year-old vehicle, as well as the irregularities in calling for bids for the hiring of this vehicle, and the issues of transparency in the payment of rent for this vehicle. In particular, the committee instructed the officer who signed the approval to provide money for this institution to act responsibly.

Also, although it was informed that the Organisation Structure and Salary Structure of the PUCSL should be developed under the recommendation of the National Salary and Cadre Commission and the approval of the Department of Management Services and that the Finance Minister should submit an amendment to Cabinet and approve it, the committee discussed spending on certain functions without doing it by the end of 2021.

In particular, COPE paid attention to the fact that Rs 45.8 million was paid to the staff of the institution under 11 types of allowances. Also, the committee paid more attention to the fact that Rs 86.8 million of the total operating cost, (49 per cent of the total amount) had been spent on public awareness programmes. 

By Methmalie Dissanayake