Oct 11, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s cabinet has approved the highly anticipated national audit bill amendments on Tuesday after receiving the go ahead from the cabinet sub committee.
The cabinet sub committee inquired into the amendments of the bill headed by Minister Sarath Amunugama presented the final draft bill to the cabinet for approval last week.
The introduction of the new bill was one of the election promises made by the government to crackdown the corruption in the state sector.
State Minister for Finance, Eran Wickramaratne told a conference Tuesday that it will get tabled in Parliament before the end of this year as politicians across party lines want the bill soon.
“The delay was due to certain suggestions and objections raised by the public sector on the bill; they made lots of representations on the audit bill,” Wickramaratne said.
According to the minister, these concerns include, quasi judicial duties devolving on the auditor general and issues with regard to the provisions on surcharges that were coming.
Accordingly, a public servant will be personally liable to pay a surcharge on account of a misuse, corruption or negligence of their duties.
Secretary of the particular ministry will have the power to decide on the surcharge even though some parties wanted the power to be removed from the secretary.
Government has also decided to expand the surcharge appeals committee by two more representatives from state administration and engineering services.
Public servants also had a concern that they could be continuously responsible to the Auditor General even after they were retired.
“But if it’s related to fraud, then that’s different, because whether you are retired or not, it is a judicial process. But these are actually valid concerns.”
Minister added that other concerned parties also have the opportunity to bring amendments even at the committee stage of the bill.
Since the budget related committee stage debates are scheduled for this year, the government seeks to pass the national audit bill by early next year.
Holding a press conference, Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe, however, stated that the undue delay in passing the legislation has hampered work of their department.
In early August, the Attorney General certified that the final draft of national audit bill is in line with the constitution of Sri Lanka.