ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new anti-corruption bill drafted consequent to a 2.9 billion dollar International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal has been sent in to be gazetted, according to Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.
Rajapakshe told reporters on Thursday March 30 that the new bill, once passed in parliament, will empower the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption to investigate suspected corruption charges with or without a complaint.
“Today the people of this country have lost their confidence in the Bribery Commission,” he said, adding that the new law will ensure the independence of the commission with regard to investigations into financial matters.
“We have given more powers to the commission than it currently holds,” said Rajapakshe.
The minister said another objective of the exercise is to ensure that retirees are not appointed to the Bribery Commission as there have been allegations of irresponsible conduct.
The new bill will also compel some public officials that Sri Lanka’s Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law No 1 of 1975, which he said is now outdated, does not cover.
“Those people have also been included in the new act to declare their assets and liabilities. Included in this group are the president, provincial chief ministers, ministers, governors, councilors, commission members, ambassadors, high commissioners, et al,” said the minister.
The IMF has urged Sri Lanka to reduce corruption vulnerabilities by improving fiscal transparency and public financial management, introducing a stronger anti-corruption legal framework. It has also proposed an in-depth governance diagnostic, supported by IMF technical assistance in return for the 2.9 billion dollar extended fund facility (EFF).
Minimising corruption has been a key demand of the protesting youth of Sri Lanka who took to the streets in 2022 to demand the ouster of then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after the island nation was hit by its worst currency crisis since Independence. (Colombo/Mar30/2023)