Written by Tharushan Fernando
25 Jun, 2016 | 7:24 pm
A special sitting of the Committee on Public Enterprises, or COPE, which is investigating controversial bond issuances by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, will be held on June 29.
While the Auditor General has also been summoned before COPE, it is broadly expected that the audit report on the bond issuances will be submitted on this date.
In response to a request in a letter penned in April this year by Chandra Jayaratne, a former chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the secretary of the Monetary Board had noted that he cannot disclose information on the bond issuances.
When it was reported that even the COPE committee in parliament would not be made privy to this information, the Department of Government Information announced that the Auditor General could examine the information at the Central Bank.
The Department of Government Information claimed that this step was taken in line with instructions from the Attorney General, not to divulge sensitive information.However, when a similar request was made in 2004 by the then Auditor General, the advise of the Attorney General at the time was that the Central Bank is duty bound to provide information for an audit.
The Attorney General had noted then that all information needed for the audit, including reports, files and accounts must be provided under Article 154 of the Constitution and provisions in the Monetary Law Act.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister had held a meeting with the Auditor General over the debate that arose in recent days after the Auditor General provided information on government debt.
Asst. Secretary fo the Sri Lanka Audit Examiners Union,K.N.M. Kumarasinghe pointed out that if one member of the executive summons the Auditor General, that in itself is a breach of independence, and pressure cannot be exerted in this way.
“We say to the public that this is a situation that must be addressed,”he said and further questioned that if the Auditor General is made to act according to the whims of various Ministers and MP’s, what will happen to public funds?
He pointed out that a minority is stealing the nation’s property and the only person to report this to Parliament is the Auditor General and if the Auditor General is disempowered, then these actions will continue unfettered.
“Theft has taken place in front of our eyes”,charged the Leader of the JV ,MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake who further stated that millions and billions of public funds have been misused and they have empowered the son-in-law’s company to make abnormal profits.
“I have heard some say that the Prime Minister is Mr. Clean. Remember that the leaders do not become clean, those around them become thieves. How can the leaders be clean when those who are around them are stealing? Who is that leader? Can such a leader be clean?”, charged the JVP leader.
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