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* COPE exposes many administrative concerns pertaining to the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau
Fri, Dec 9, 2022, 10:56 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 09, Colombo: The Auditor General’s reports and current performance of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau for the years 2019 and 2020 were looked into at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) held on Thursday under the chairmanship of MP Prof. Ranjith Bandara.

The committee meeting at length discussed 21 basic concerns highlighted by the Auditor General in his report.

Issues related to the updating of the Act related to the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau were investigated at the Committee meeting. The appointment of four persons representing foreign service agencies to the Board of Directors while acting as a regulatory agency of the Foreign Employment Bureau was focused here.

A discussion about the Bureau’s Board of Directors not having a representative from the Ministry was also discussed. As a result of this, the committee informed the secretary to the said Ministry to work towards urgently updating the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Act and to submit a preliminary report regarding the said within a period of one month.

The Auditor General pointed out that according to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Act, a vice president position should not be there. Furthermore, the Secretary to the Ministry was instructed to inform via a letter with immediate effect that the appointment made by the Minister is not legal and there is no provision in the Act for such an appointment. The Secretary was also instructed to inform that the decisions taken by the persons who held the said position during the previously is not legal.

COPE also directed the Board to update the Bureau’s Corporate Plan and submit it within two months. It was further instructed that to add the strategic plan, action plan and succession plan to be included in it.

It was instructed to make arrangements for maintaining the Labor Welfare Fund as a separate account and to subject it to the financial audit by the Auditor General with effect from this financial year. It was recommended that the actions taken by the Chief Financial Officer be informed to the Board of Directors and the decision of the Board of Directors be submitted to COPE within two months.

According to a previous cabinet recommendation, the Bureau had used the services of the Sri Lanka Police for investigative work which is not currently being implemented. Thus, the identification of the shortcomings of such investigative work was discussed at the committee meeting.

COPE recommended that the assistance of the Police Department be sought in relation to the above Cabinet approval. If there is no such requirement, it was said to inform the cabinet and take necessary instructions.

The issue of not punishing the culprits and not implementing the recommendations given by the Auditor General or at the Ministry level or at the Foreign Employment Bureau level regarding various irregularities and acquitting them according to the decisions of the Board of Directors was taken into discussion.

The Secretary to the Ministry was instructed to conduct a formal disciplinary investigation with the support of the Public Administration Ministry’s Disciplinary Investigation Squad and submit it to the COPE within a month.

It was recommended that a special report be called from the Auditor General on alleged errors and irregularities in the provision of insurance to expatriate workers. He also recommended that the Secretary to the Ministry submit a brief report within one month on the process of providing insurance to Sri Lankans living abroad.

While matters related to the expenditure incurred by the Bureau continuously without formal approval was looked into, it was decided to submit a brief account of the actions that may be coordinated by the representative of the Treasury to Committee within three months.

The secretary to the treasury was instructed to appoint those who are appointed as representatives of the Ministry of Finance, as board members of various institutions for a specified period of time.

COPE investigated the losses caused to the Foreign Employment Bureau by delaying investment decisions and it was also revealed that such losses were caused by the transfer of the power to make such decisions to one official.

COPE, which recommended that the authority should be transferred to a committee, instructed the Chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau to inform within two weeks about the measures to be taken in this regard.

COPE suggested that a special investigation should be done by the internal auditor on those who carry out labor welfare activities in foreign missions and it was recommended that the secretary to the Ministry should send the report to COPE.

The Auditor General’s report revealed that a social crisis is being created because a large number of people get training opportunities through various programs conducted by the Foreign Employment Bureau for job opportunities in different countries, but do not get the opportunity to go abroad.

Therefore, the Foreign Employment Bureau ordered the Chairman of the Bureau to provide a full report on the personnel who have been sent for training and prepared to go abroad.

It was also decided to call the Foreign Employment Bureau again in three months to check the progress of these recommendations.

State Ministers Jagath Pushpakumara, Lohan Ratwatte, Shantha Bandara Members of Parliament Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, Rohini Kumari Wijeratne, Sanjeeva Edirimanna, Jagath Kumara Sumithraarachchi, Major Sudarshana Denipitiya, Premnath C. Dolawatte, Upul Mahendra Rajapaksha, M. Rameshwaran, Rajika Wickramasinghe, Madhura Withanage, Prof. Charitha Herath and the Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Foreign Employment, the Chairman of the Foreign Employment Bureau, the General Manager and other officials were present at the Committee meeting held.

 

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