Electronic documentation can prevent corruption in Sri Lanka: Eran
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan customs and ports should urgently adopt a long-delayed electronic document processing which will not only help speed up commerce but combat corruption as well, a minister said.
“Keeping it electronic helps us to also deal with corruption problems that are endemic in this sector,” Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development Eran Wickramaratne said.
“The customs and ports in Sri Lanka need to fully adopt, as a matter of urgency, electronic document processing to increase the accuracy, speed and integrity of the logistics process,” he said.
Improving Sri Lanka’s soft infrastructure like regulations and documenting systems, which look archaic in comparison to competing nations, is a matter of priority for the present government.
“We know the term ‘paper trail’ is associated with accountability, but the problem is that physical papers can go missing too!” Wickramaratne told the annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Sri Lanka.
“With electronic document processing, you create a more durable footprint that is vital for good governance within the private sector and the public sector.”
Wickramaratne said the problem of corruption was not unique to Sri Lanka and that across the world, many people think that corruption – such as a bribe – can grease the wheels of the system.
“People in logistics might not think there is a problem in making payments to get things done such as something as basic as getting a document,” Wickramaratne said.
However in the long term, corruption can also act like ‘sand in the wheel’ and prevent progress, he noted.
“Indeed, it can prevent the sort of reform that can truly improve a business,” Wickramaratne said.
“For more than 20 years, Sri Lanka has tried to make the transition to electronic processing but people who are beneficiaries of the incumbent system generally block it,” he added.
“As a result, Sri Lanka’s logistics won’t be as competitive as it could be on the global scale.”
(Colombo/November 19 2015)