“An Audit Service Commission was established through the 19th amendment to the Constitution 20 months ago. However, the Bill that would allow the Audit service commission to function has not been adopted yet. Now, a new situation has surfaced. It is to audit the Audit Service Commission. For, a staff has been appointed; they have been paid, provided facilities but no action has been carried out by the commission which is a waste of public money. As such, this institute should be audited. A gang of thieves and hoodlums in the cabinet attempts not to present the Audit Bill in Parliament. We, as the JVP, would take all the possible measures to get the Audit Bill passed in Parliament,” said the Leader of the JVP Anura Dissanayaka.
He said this speaking at a press conference held at the head office of the JVP at Pelawatta yesterday (25th).
Speaking further Mr Dissanayaka said, “This government is delaying adopting the Audit Bill. This government, just like it was with the previous regime, is accused of misappropriation, waste, fraud of public funds and corruption. Misappropriation of public money, fraud, corruption and waste have become cancers of the economic structure of the country. A legal provision is necessary to minimize this menace. However, it would not be possible to consider that adopting of the Audit Bill would stop all corruption and frauds. However, a legal covering is necessary against misappropriation, waste, fraud and corruption.
The Expressway to be built by this government from Pothuhera to Galagedera is 32.5 kilometres. It is expected to spend Rs. 135 billion for this project. Construction of one kilometre would cost Rs.4150 million. The cabinet has presented this project to a company that had been rejected earlier. Do the people in our country have to spend Rs. 4150 million for a kilometre of the road? Also, an agreement had been signed with a French company during the previous regime to buy four A350 planes. The agreement was not only a very unfavourable one but also involved a large transaction. The present government cancelled this agreement and had to pay US$108 million to the company and also agreed to buy an A330 plane and to extend the lease of a plane for 10 years. As such, this administration too is one that misuses people’s money, commit frauds, corruption and waste of public funds.
The cabinet, the Prime Minister and the President hinder the move to present audit Bill in Parliament. The Audit Department in our country is 200 years old. However, the country doesn’t have an Audit Bill. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have an Audit Bill.
In 1987 then Chairman of COPE presenting a report said an Audit Bill was essential as public funds were being misused. Also, in a report of a research carried out with the assistance of several foreign countries in 2003 it was stated that an Audit Bill was necessary for the country. Accordingly, a draft of an Audit Bill was compiled in 2013. 14 years have gone by but the Bill has not been adopted. If it is the people in this country that have to adopt the Bill a large majority would vote for it. However, it is the cabinet that has to pass the Bill. It is the cabinet with fraudsters, thieves and squanderers that has to pass the Bill to stop misappropriation of public funds, fraud, corruption and waste. These thieves, fraudsters and plunderers in the cabinet continuously obstruct the adoption of the Bill in Parliament.
In the 100 day programme of Maithri – Ranil government it is clearly stated that the Audit Bill would be presented to parliament on 19th February 2015 and get it adopted on 19th March 2015. On 20th April 2015, the Prime Minister presented it to the cabinet. 30 months have gone by since then. During this period the cabinet has met about 120 times. However, the Bill has not been approved. The Bill was amended on several instances. The Constitution in the country has been amended only 19 times. However, the Audit Bill has been amended 22 times. The amended draft was presented to parliament again on 9th August 2017. However, ministers want more time saying they want to study it. Why is it so? They want to see whether their stealing, frauds would be exposed if the Bill is adopted.
As such, we decided to present the Bill to Parliament as a private member’s bill through Comrade Sunil Handunneththi.
The audit process in our country is similar to a postmortem. The FCID investigates only financial crimes that have been already committed. The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption investigates only after frauds and bribery that have been committed. The CID investigates after a crime has been committed. The Audit Department carries out investigations after transactions have been completed. As such, what is being carried out now is, instead of taking measures to minimize the harm being done, the auditing process is carried out only after the harm has been already done.
As such, it is necessary to have a pre-audit process. Isn’t it justifiable to have a pre-audit carried out on the Pothuhera – Galagedera Expressway project? Isn’t it necessary to audit why the Minister had handed over the project to a company that had been rejected earlier? There should not only financial audits in connection with this project there should also be a technical audit. There are provisions for such audits in the Audit Bill. Isn’t it necessary to audit the Pothuheera – Galagedera project when the contract was given to a company that bid Rs.135000 despite the estimate of the Engineering Corporation was only Rs.123000 million?
There is a lot of provisions in the Bill to protect independence. The officials appointed to the Audit Service Commission are to be removed from Public Service Commission and are attached to Audit Service Commission. Also, it is the Treasury that finances the Audit Department. This would allow the Ministry of Finance to have its influence. However, according to Audit Bill finances to the Audit Department should be allocated from Parliament. Then the Ministry of Finance would not have any influence over it. Also, according to this Bill all financial matters, administration and other matters are carried out independently. It would be a hindrance against thieving, frauds, corruption and waste. Despite this, the rulers are postponing passing the Bill.
An Audit Service Commission was established through the 19th amendment to the Constitution 20 months ago. However, the Bill that would allow the Audit service commission to function has not been adopted yet. Now, a new situation has surfaced. It is to audit the Audit Service Commission. For, a staff has been appointed; they have been paid, provided facilities but no action has been carried out by the commission which is a waste of public money. As such, this institute should be audited. A gang of thieves and hoodlums in the Parliament attempt not to present the Audit Bill in Parliament. We, as the JVP, would take all the possible measures to get the Audit Bill passed in Parliament.”