Sri Lanka lawmakers fiscally clueless: legal activist

Sept 22, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s parliament lacked a permanent fiscal affairs committee paving the way for “mythical” budgets and lawmakers lacked capacity and research to constructively probe public spending and bodies, a legal activist has said. “Take, for example, the parliamentary oversight committee, COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) tasked with dealing with all public corporations.

“They don’t have capacity at all. Who are the people who are assisting them? They don’t have a single researcher – they do not have enough researchers.”

But other countries where parliamentary oversight works effectively have financial allocations to get researchers into parliamentary oversight finance committees.

In the US in particular permanent congressional and senate committees conduct public hearings, consulting professionals and produce reports which are used for policy formulation.

Weliamuna, a lawyer who has fought several public interest cases against corruption in both government and corporate sectors, said the capacity of institutions, the judiciary, and the media were too weak.

“When I look at governance both in the government and corporate sectors, there’s a huge lack of commitment in the leadership for any of those pr