By Shamindra Ferdinando-April 20, 2017, 12:00 pm
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday assured that the long delayed National Audit Bill would be presented to parliament as soon as possible.
Assurance was given at a meeting with proprietors, editors and journalists representing public and private print and electronic media.
Acknowledging that there had been a delay on the part of the yahapalana government in respect of the much touted piece of legislation, President Maithripala Sirisena said that he would direct relevant authorities to expedite the process.
President Maithripala Sirisena was responding to The Island query at a media briefing at Janadhipathi Mandiraya. Asked whether he could explain the failure to introduce the National Audit Bill in parliament on Feb 19, 2015 in accordance with his government’s 100-day programme, President Maithripala Sirisena admitted the lapse on their part.
The Rajapaksa administration held it up for over a decade President Maithripala Sirisena said that during the last budget debate he assured that the National Audit Bill would be presented in January 2017.
Combined Trade Union Alliance of the Auditor General’s Department has alleged that the yahapalana government had diluted the proposed Bill so much it wouldn’t make any difference now. The grouping has accused the Finance Ministry as well as a section of powerful bureaucrats of sabotaging the Bill meant to tackle waste, corruption and irregularities in the public sector.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, too, has assured the Combined Trade Union Alliance to bring in the National Audit Bill.
President Maithriipala Sirisena said that the cabinet was yet to receive the final draft. He promised to look into allegations once it was received.
Revealing that a former Auditor General had made representations to him recently regarding the urgent requirement to strengthen public audit process, President Maithripala Sirisena said that successive Presidents had shirked responsibilities in that regard. President Maithripala Sirisena admitted that he too failed to exercise his constitutional rights in that regard. The President said that he and his predecessors hadn’t followed constitutional provisions in respect of public audit process.
President Sirisena assured that he would certainly intervene to ensure proper audit process and soon establish required mechanism. The President said that his intervention was required and promised to put in place a mechanism to rectify shortcomings.
Responding to a query regarding proposed much discussed cabinet reshuffle, the SLFP leader asserted that changes could take place before forthcoming Vesak. The President refrained from commenting further on the contentious issue.
President Sirisena hinted that there could be significant changes in the administration with a spate of new appointments meant to give what he a called a new look in the top bureaucracy.
Outspoken public official Auditor Gen. Gamini Wijesinghe has publicly clashed with the yahapalana government over audit process prompting a section of the government to flay Wijesinghe.