COPE instructs to update Land Reforms Commission Act and restructure its functions
October 25, 2022 11:55 pm
The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) recommended to the Secretary to the Ministry of Lands to update the Land Reforms Commission (LRC) Act and carry out the necessary measures to restructure its operations.
Accordingly, COPE instructed Mr Chulananda Perera that a report be given within 6 weeks, based on the action taken in this regard.
These recommendations were made when the Committee on Public Enterprises met in Parliament on Oct. 21 under the chairmanship of MP Prof. Ranjith Bandara to examine the Auditor General’s report for the year 2020 and the current performance of the Land Reform Commission.
The COPE committee gave several recommendations to the LRC. It was decided that the LRC officials be summoned before the COPE again within 3 months to look into the implementation of those recommendations.
The COPE observed the concerns in the transfer of land by the commission and thus the committee chairman recommended that a report containing detailed information about the transfer of land in the last 20 years should be submitted to the COPE committee within a month.
The COPE also called for the setting up of a task force to identify and estimate the value of land and recommended that the Secretary to the Ministry report to the committee within two weeks the details of the responsibilities assigned to the task force.
The COPE recommended the appointment of the Surveyor General or his representative as well as the Government Assessor or his representative for this task force.
Furthermore, the COPE committee discussed about the “2018 project to distribute 10,000 plots of land” and Prof. Ranjith Bandara, the chairman of the COPE committee, recommended that a detailed report on the progress of this be given to the committee.
In particular, he recommended that the 214 people recruited on a temporary basis for this project should be discussed with the management department and a definite final decision should be taken to include them in the approved number of employees, and if necessary, they should be referred to the Cabinet for approval.
Furthermore, the COPE recommended including the procedure of the Land Reform Commission in a national policy on land distribution and make necessary arrangements.
COPE recommended updating the 50-year-old Land Reforms Commission Act to suit the present-day context.
Furthermore, the COPE suggested that within two weeks, the Organic Fertilizer Project, which was initiated by the LRC and has been temporarily paused at a cost of Rs. 350 million, should be transferred to a state agency which has the knowledge of fertilizer products.
The missing files of the LRC were also taken into discussion and the COPE informed the commission to immediately submit the missing files to the Auditor General.
The COPE also directed to take immediate action to resolve the existing issues regarding the beneficiaries identified earlier under the statutory assignments.
The Auditor General’s opinion on the financial statements of this commission has been disclaimed for about 10 years, the notice was given to prepare the financial statements correctly and arrange for the annual reports to be tabled in the parliament within 3 months.
COPE recommended taking immediate action against the alleged company to recover the amount of 17 million rupees paid to a private computer company for the creation and development of a fully integrated computer system and to take disciplinary action against the officials involved in the matter.
Furthermore, the COPE also recommended taking legal action within two weeks to recover the amount of nearly 12 million rupees for the 6 acres of land assigned to a private company without a tax deed in the Homagama area. It was also instructed to inquire and report to the COPE committee regarding not making an agreement and charging 4% instead of 6% of the assessed value.
COPE recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the officials concerned for renting the building where the head office of this commission is run, exceeding the government assessment from the year 2016 without a rental agreement, contrary to the decision of the Cabinet and that immediate steps be taken to move the office to a government building.
COPE recommended inquiring into the relevant agencies regarding an investigation officer who is a lawyer who received two salaries and arranging to recover 1.7 million salary and other allowances and recommended action against that officer.
It was recommended to discuss with the relevant institutions and the treasury regarding the two billion arrears of tax revenue to be collected from the government institutions and arrange for an immediate settlement.