The newly ‘reshuffled’ cabinet, which met yesterday, approved the amended National Audit Draft Bill. Sources said that the bill was heavily diluted.
The bill has been amended on a number of occasions and earlier this year President Maithripala Sirisena said that the issue of the National Audit Bill delay had been taken up with the Cabinet on more than 100 occasions.
Auditor General (AG) Gamini Wijesinghe has also criticized the Cabinet for blocking the National Audit Bill. The bill was expected to come into effect during the 100-day programme of the Sirisena – Wickremesinghe government, which came into power in January 2015. Due to this delay the National Audit Commission, which was established by the 19th amendment has not been able to commence its operations.
The delay in implementing the audit bill was one of the main reasons why Sri Lanka has failed to show significant improvement in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2017, Executive Director of Transparency International, Asoka Obeyesekere said.
“Progressive legal reforms such as giving citizens the right to freely access asset declarations of public representatives and the passage of the essential National Audit Bill had also been stalled in Cabinet, which was indicative of a lack of bureaucratic and political will,” he said.