It was revealed in the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that applications pertaining to mining and exploration activities are directed to the Minister’s approval in order to facilitate the issuance of licenses.
This was revealed when officials of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) were summoned before the COPE yesterday (06).
The Chairman of the COPE Prof. Ranjith Bandara pointed out, “There is no provision in the Mines & Minerals Act that applications should be directed to the Minister for his approval,”
“As the regulatory body, the GSMB has the sole authority to issue the relevant licenses sans minister’s approval. According to the Act, the Bureau is authorized to take independent decision with regard to giving approval to mining activities and other related purposes,” Prof Bandara underscored.
“As such, the GSMB Chairman appears to have acted according to his own whims and fancies and not in accordance with Act. Thus, it is apparent that the licenses have been issued in an illegal manner and the Chairman has violated the mandate,” he stressed.
When the COPE chief asked other officials whether they were aware about this, all the officials except the acting director general said they were not aware of such a procedure. Raising the same matter, MP Anura Priyadharshana Yapa who was once the subject minister of GSMB said that he was never sent any application for approval nor did he ask for any application when he was the minister as it was none of his business.
Accordingly, the COPE chairman expressed his strong displeasure over the conduct of the Chairman and other officials of the GSMB.
Meanwhile, the GSMB was also slammed for not maintaining a proper database about the activities of the Bureau.
Taking all these matters into account, the COPE decided to appoint a sub-committee to further look into the issue and propose suitable recommendations to the GSMB.
‘’Further, a comprehensive report in this regard will also be submitted to Parliament in the future,’’ the COPE Chairman added. (Sheain Fernandopulle)
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