Must respect independence of Constitutional Council, Commissions - President | Daily News


 

‘Protest demos outside office distracting from work’

Must respect independence of Constitutional Council, Commissions - President

All mechanisms in place to ensure better public service
COPA awards: Government institutions which had achieved a high performance in 2018 were presented awards at a ceremony held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Parliamentary Complex yesterday. Picture shows Secretary to the Chief Government Whip of Parliament Chaminda Kularatne receiving an award from the President. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) Chairman and State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna were present. Picture courtesy President’s Media Unit

COPA awards: Government institutions which had achieved a high performance in 2018 were presented awards at a ceremony held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Parliamentary Complex yesterday. Picture shows Secretary to the Chief Government Whip of Parliament Chaminda Kularatne receiving an award from the President. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) Chairman and State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna were present. Picture courtesy President’s Media Unit  

Promising that he would strictly respect the integrity of the Constitutional Council and the independent commissions, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday told senior public servants at an awards ceremony in Parliament that they should not be discouraged if some politicians in Parliamentary Oversight Committees chose to publicly criticise them.

He was speaking at the Awards Ceremony in Parliament yesterday organized by the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) to recognize the public institutions with high performance levels.

He lamented that his time to concentrate on national policies and making of an efficient public service has been restricted due to the growing number of protest demonstrations demanding his attention.

The President remarked that he intended to study the latest reports by the Parliamentary Watchdog Committees to get their recommendations implemented, but unfortunately the demonstrations in front of his office has taken much of his time and attention.He pointed out that the issues coming under the purview of various Ministries should be settled in the ministry level.

“We have a large public service cadre of about 1.5 million. Now more persons are being recruited. The demonstrations demanding salary hikes and removal of anomalies in the public sector are frequent. These demands can only be met, if we improve the state revenue. For that, we need to prevent corruption and waste and enhance efficiency by integrating new technologies. Otherwise, the system will collapse one day,” he remarked.

He also told the public officers to take up the monitoring role of the committees such as the COPE and COPA in the right spirit without looking at them as deterrents to their work.

“All these mechanisms are in place to ensure a better service to the people. I urge the public servants to work with integrity for the country’s welfare. The peoples’ most common complaints are about delaying their services, waste of their time, having to be in long queues and having to visit several places to get done their work. It is important to rectify these shortcomings. If an investor has to wait for about three years for approval, then he would give us the idea,” he commented.

He also asked the Parliamentary Committees to be careful of their approach to the officials, so that capable officials are not discouraged. “Now committee meetings are open to the media and recently I saw how the new management of SriLankan Airlines was rebuked at the COPE for the mismanagement of their predecessors. We have appointed capable and knowledgeable individuals as the new Chairman and the Director Board, and they do not obtain any salary or privilege. After I saw it on television, I personally phoned the new Chairman to make sure that he was not disappointed of how he was treated at the COPE,” he noted.

In reply to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s remarks on the role of the Constitutional Council (CC), where the Speaker took pains to elaborate that all the decisions taken by the CC were unanimous decisions since its inception, the President said that he has no problem as far as the CC acts impartially for the benefit of the country.

However, the President pointed out that the appointees to the Independent Commissions must be “truly independent”. “For example, an Election Commission member spoke and wrote in a partial manner during the last election. Then the independence of that Commission could be questioned. The people lose confidence in the Independent Commissions as a result of such behaviour,” President Rajapaksa added.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, speaking at the occasion, commended the President’s keenness to enhance the performance and efficiency of the public sector institutions and to prevent waste and corruption in them, adding that they too support the President’s efforts to that end.

“Sri Lanka has the largest public service cadre in the world when compared to the population. We have one public servant for every 14 persons. Had this cadre been used in the optimal manner, ours’ should have been the most efficient public service in the world. But we have comparatively more public holidays and leave. Even on the days at work, ask from yourselves as to whether you actually work eight hours? Had you done that, this country could have been made a paradise,” the Speaker told the audience.

The Speaker, observing that there had been opinions lately asking to abolish the Sectoral Oversight Committees (SOCs) in Parliament, cautioned against such a decision, elaborating on the past few years’ contributions of the SOCs.

COPA Chairman Lasatha Alagiyawanna said that the public sector institutions lag behind when it comes to the integration of Information Technology, adding that the progress in this regard is not satisfactory.

He added that at least the Inland Revenue Department, the Customs and Excise Department, which contribute to about 90 percent of the state revenue, must be linked via an IT network, but this has been delayed due to various challenges.

Fifty one public institutions, which scored over 95 marks out of 100 based on their performances in 2018, were presented gold awards by the President on the occasion. A total of 844 institutions come under the purview of the COPA.


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