CoPF praises Port City Commission for immediate implementation of recommendations
The Committee on Public Funds (CoPF) on January 19 has praised the Colombo Port City Commission for taking immediate actions to implement the recommendations forwarded by the CoPF on January 05.
The CoPF’s recommendation of adopting online methods for the Port City Commission and submitting audited accounts for the year 2021 has immediately been responded with, hence Committee Chief MP (Dr.) Harsha De Silva’s appreciation of the actions.
Attending the CoPF session, officers of the Port City Commission noted that it was established under a completely legitimate purview of the government in accordance with the Port City Commission Act.
The Commission responding to a query on its ability of corroborating the validity of the information provided in the applications related to the licences emphasised that the responsibility of the information detailed in each application is referred to the applicant themselves, adding that a register of all companies in the Port City Premises are being maintained electronically enabling the general public to access these information.
Queried about the privileges of applicants who have the freedom to choose to do business outside the Port City in terms of tax policies, the Commission responded saying that those institutions have been given the authority for policy formulation pertaining to pay structures and human resources.
In response, CoPF Chief Dr. Silva stressed that the process should be subject to strong surveillance in the probability of the occurrence of irregularities. In addition, the companies are, if approved by the subject Minister, eligible to to establish a business outside the Port City on an interim basis for not more than five years.
Elaborating on surcharges and penalty charges, the Commission went on that the parameters of penalties of the Port City Commission are being formulated together with the Attorney General’s Office and other relevant regulators. The CoPF Chief argued that the Port City Economic Commission cannot serve the purpose of multiple regulators in controlling the Colombo Port City, and instructed the Commission to work closely with the Ministry of Finance, which at the present is already working as per the instructions of the CoPF to establish a body for Casino regulation by the end of 2023.
Taking the matter of resolving conflicts into account, it was revealed that the institution within the Port City, as per the Port City Commission Act, offers provisions to solve only conflicts within the Port City. However, all judicial proceedings are being carried out on a priority basis at the Magistrates’ and Civil Courts within Sri Lanka’s borders, and the Attorney General’s Office confirmed that these matters will be reviewed soon.
Conclusively, all gazettes provided for review have been approved by the CoPF under conditions, following the Port City Economic Commission’s assurance that the licence renewal process will be brought under more clarity, and regular meetings will be carried out to ensure proper submission of audit reports and avoidance of delays in other legal affairs.
State Ministers Suren Raghavan, Anupa Paskuel, MPs Chandima Weerakkody, Mayantha Dissanayake, Ranjith Bandara, Nalaka Godahewa, Premnath C. Dolawatta and Madhura Withanage, and officers of the Port City Commission and the Attorney General’s Office also attended the event.