Attempts made to weaken draft of National Audit Bill: SL Audit Service Assn.

Attempts made to weaken draft of National Audit Bill: SL Audit Service Assn.

Attempts made to weaken draft of National Audit Bill: SL Audit Service Assn.

Written by Staff Writer

09 May, 2016 | 8:21 pm

The Sri Lanka Audit Service Association and the Sri Lanka Accountants Service Association claim that attempts are being made to weaken the draft of the long-awaited National Audit Bill. The passing of a National Audit Bill was a promise made to the voters at the concluded presidential and parliamentary elections. The bill is intended to strengthen Parliament’s authority over the use of public funds.

It is also expected that the bill will confirm and expand on the powers of the Auditor General, the role and independence of the office. The bill is also expected to outline provisions for the establishing of an Independent Audit Commission chaired by the Auditor
General. Laws have been in existence since 1993 to impose surcharges on public officials, in the event of misuse of finances.

At present, it is the ministries and the relevant departments that take the final decision on imposing surcharges. The draft of the National Audit Bill had originally intended to hand over the power of imposing surcharges to the Auditor General.

General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Accountants Service Association, M.D.S. Anton Perera stated that for 23 years not a single surcharge was imposed because the misuse of funds starts at the top or orders are given by political authorities to spend funds in a certain way.

He added that as ministry secretaries and department heads are part of the system therefore if they impose surcharges, they will be the first to get caught as it will affect not the politicians nor the people: it affects the public officials. But it should be stated clearly, whether they are in favour or opposed to this, especially the Administrative Service Association.

Explaining further he added that it is officials from the Administrative Service Association that hold majority of Ministry Secretary and Department Head positions. So, if a bill is passed while holding onto the power they have had for 23 years, it is better if things stay the same.

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