Millions spent on Presidential commissions
By Chandani Kirinde
There have been thirty one Presidential Commissions of Inquiry appointed since President Chandrika Kumaratunga took office in November 1994, costing the State over Rs. 181 million, Parliament was told last week.

The reports on most of these commissions had already been completed and made public, although there were several still pending, Chief Government Whip Jeyaraj Fernandopulle told Parliament in response to an oral question raised by UNP Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake on Wednesday.

The five Presidential Commissions of Inquiry that are yet to submit reports include the Commissions of Inquiry into the death of Gangodawila Soma Thera, appointed in December, 2004, the Commission to investigate the conduct of some State institutions following the December 26th tsunami, appointed in February, the Commission to Inquire into the attacks on LTTE cadres in Batticaloa and Ampara districts in March, 2005, the Commission to inquire into the no-confidence motion against the Western Province Chief Minister Reginold Cooray appointed in June this year and the Commission to inquire into issues on lands belonging to Buddhist Temporalities, appointed in July.

The most expensive commission has been the Special Presidential Commission on Malpractices and Irregularities in Certain Public Bodies, appointed in February, 2005, with the expenditure running into Rs. 27,080,146.10. This Commission submitted its report in March, 1999.

The Salaries Commission 2000 headed by Tissa Devendra and appointed in July, 2000, submitted its report in October, 2000. The expenditure was Rs. 17.2 million while the Presidential Truth Commission on Ethnic Violence (1981-84) appointed in July, 2001 which submitted its report in August, 2002 cost over Rs. 8.9 million. The other Commissions of Inquiry included Commissions to probe the assassinations of Lalith Athulathmudali, Vijaya Kumaratunga and Lt. Gen. Denzil Kobbekaduwa.

Separate commissions were also appointed to investigate the Janasaviya Trust Fund, the disappearances of persons and operation of an illegal detention camp at Batalanda in 1995, incidents at the Bindunwewa Rehabilitation Camp in Bandarawela and into the helicopter crash which killed former Minister A.H.M. Ashraff in 2001.

Two other widely published commissions were the ones to look into the terrorist attack on the Air Force Base and airport at Katunayake in 2001, the Buddha Sasana Commission, the disclosure of the Army safehouse at Athurugiriya.

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