Graft costs Sri Lanka a billion dollars a year: whistle-blower

Jan 16, 2007 (AFP) – Kick-backs and crooked deals cost Sri Lanka over a billion dollars last year amounting to about a fifth of tax revenue, the country’s top official whistle-blower said.

The head of the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises, or COPE, told AFP corruption and fraud runs deep in the main foreign investment promotion body and a state-agency involved in privatisation.

COPE, which last year probed 26 of the 210 state enterprises, found fault with Sri Lanka’s Central Bank too for not monitoring financial institutions properly and failing to recover large amounts due to the state.
“As a result of these inefficiencies and corrupt deals, we estimate Sri Lanka may have lost in excess of 100 billion rupees (one billion dollars) last year alone,” Legislator Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said Monday.

The loss is about a fifth of government revenue and amounts to about four percent of the 24-billion dollar economy.

He said he had discovered that the Board of Investment (BOI) operated without a business plan and maintained records in an ad-hoc fashion.

“It was shocking discovery to all of us. The BOI is such an important institution and the main agency to attract f