Transparency International cries foul over diluted National Audit Bill

Transparency International cries foul over diluted National Audit Bill

Transparency International cries foul over diluted National Audit Bill

Written by Keshala Dias

22 Mar, 2018 | 8:29 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st) – Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) issuing a statement, says it is extremely concerned over amended provisions in the gazetted National Audit Bill.

Transparency International lists three major areas of concern.

1. The surcharge powers, being the power to recover monies related to any fraud, negligence, misappropriation or corruption, have been vested in the Chief Accounting Officers instead of the Auditor General.

2. Vast discretionary powers have been vested in Chief Accounting Officers in determining the final surcharge.

3. Persons subject to an inquiry by the Auditor General are entitled to nominate others to appear on their behalf.

Transparency International Sri Lanka says that the surcharge powers being vested with the Chief Accounting Officers, highlights a potential conflict of interest.

Furthermore, the TISL says, in the event that the CAO’s themselves are subject to an inquiry, surcharging power has been vested in the president as the appointing authority.

However, should the president choose to impose a surcharge, the Act does not provide a right of appeal to the CAO.

Additionally, the release says, any individual who is the subject of an inquiry is able to nominate any other person ‘conversant on the subject’ to appear on their behalf if they are unable to appear themselves. TISL fears that this provision could be abused by those seeking to avoid accountability – especially since the refusal to appear before the Auditor General is no longer an offence, as was provided in previous versions of the Bill.

TISL recognizes however, the positive revisions incorporated in the gazetted Bill, including the appointment of the surcharge appeals committee being placed under the purview of the Constitutional Council instead of the Audit Service Commission, ensuring the independence of the body from the Auditor General.

Speaking on the subject, TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere said, “After numerous revisions, if the National Audit Bill in its current form is adopted, it will fall short in strengthening accountability in public finance. TISL will therefore, share a legislative brief with all MPs calling on them to effect the key amendments during the committee stage of the National Audit Bill”.

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