Backdoor Fund

October 13, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s supreme court has been asked to probe the allocation of over 50 billion rupees in next year’s budget for unspecified spending outside the authority of parliament which has raised suspicions of a hidden fund.

The Court is expected to announce this week if it will allow the case to be taken up after accepting a petition by controversial accountant Nihal Sri Ameresekere who alleged that an appropriation bill setting out the spending plans of the government in 2008, is illegal.

The presentation of the appropriation bill is the first step in Sri Lanka’s budget making process.

The complaint filed in Supreme Court Thursday alleged that powers of Parliament to have total control over state finances had been usurped by making way for money to be set aside for spending outside the scrutiny of the legislature.

Ameresekere alleged that via the bill the Finance Ministry sought to transfer money to a special allocation from which cash could then be given to other ministries without the knowledge or approval of parliament.

The controversy relates to an allocation under the National Budget Department. It exceeds 50 billion rupees or is equal to 5.4 percent of total spending by Sri Lanka next year.

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