June 10, Colombo: It was revealed at the parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) that the deficit income of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) for the year 2022 is over 6.28 billion rupees.
It was disclosed that the CMC’s total outstanding income for 2021 was Rs. 5.836 billion, Rs. 5,386 billion for 2020 and Rs. 4.482 billion in 2019. These outstanding amounts primarily consist of assessment tax, rent, and other taxes owed to the CMC.
These facts were revealed when the Committee on Public Accounts met in Parliament on June 6 under the Chairmanship of State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna to examine the Auditor General’s reports and the current performance of the Colombo Municipal Council for the years 2020/2021.
Accordingly, the officials who were present at COPA meeting pointed out that they are working to acquire the properties which owe the taxes.
Also, there are problems in identifying the owners of certain properties, and the dearth of officials who are supposed to deal with this matter in the Municipal Council have emerged as problems in the recovery of these arrears.
The members of the committee who were present pointed out that assessment numbers have been given for unauthorized constructions as well.
Thus, the committee recommended that by July 06, 2023, a program should be prepared with dates to recover this money and a full report should be submitted to the COPA committee.
Also, it was revealed that the private entities contracted to collect the parking fees have continued to default on the monthly rent due to the municipality and as of December 31, 2021, the arrears to be collected from 38 entities amounted to Rs. 265 million.
Also, the firefighting unit of the Colombo Municipal Council was discussed and the COPA Chairman said the service of this unit is appreciated and this should be spread throughout Sri Lanka.
It was also mentioned that this department has the facilities to put out fires in buildings up to 20 stories high. COPA Chairman Mr. Lasantha Alagiyawanna said that if there is a fire in buildings with more than 20 floors, it is important to get the support of the Air Force. Because of this, the COPA Chairman advised the CMC to increase coordination with the Air Force. The vacancies in the fire department were also discussed here.
Also, there was a long discussion about not receiving the ad revenue in a formal manner. Accordingly, the chairman of the committee pointed out the need to maintain a formal process and monitor it properly.
COPA’s attention was also drawn to the evasion of payment of assessment on a land in Colombo 07 area and the lack of proper maintenance of land records. Accordingly, the chairman of the committee recommended that a complete report on this be given to the committee by July 6th.
The Committee also discussed the weak monitoring process of the Western Municipalities Commissioner’s Office.
Furthermore, the Colombo city’s waste water management project was also discussed here and the COPA will meet on June 21 to discuss this further. The chairman said that all the parties involved in this project will be called to the committee on that day. Apart from this, the solid waste disposal method was also discussed here.
State ministers Hon. Prasanna Ranaweera, Diana Gamage, and K. Kader Mastan MPs Ashok Abeysinghe, Jayantha Katagoda, Hector Appuhami, Dr. Major Pradeep Undugoda, Sahan Pradeep Withana and Weerasumana Weerasinghe participated in the meeting.