Auditor General refuses to buckle under pressure Lashes out at wrongdoers
Posted on February 7th, 2017

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

Embattled Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe yesterday declared that a note made by a lady officer as regards a certain directive received by her pertaining to a controversial matter now under investigation would surely help establish the truth.

Wijesinghe was referring to the alleged Central Bank bond scam involving primary dealer Perpetual Treasuries now investigated by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.

The outspoken official said that note had made a significant impact on the overall inquiry.

President Maithripala Sirisena recently appointed a three member Commission of Inquiry to probe and make recommendations to the Attorney General regarding the alleged bond scam that had taken place in late Feb 2015.

Wijesinghe said public servants had the right to ask for written instructions from those above them as regards directives issued to them under various circumstances. In case their superiors had declined to issue directives in writing, they should ensure the inclusion of specific note in the relevant file for future reference, Wijesinghe said.

The first COPE investigation headed by the then MP D.E.W. Gunasekera established the note made by a senior lady officer of the Central Bank.

In an obvious reference to recent controversy over him releasing information pertaining to Central Bank bond scam to COPE Chairman Sunil Handunetti, Wijesinghe declared that he wouldn’t deal secretly with anyone. Emphasising that the public had a right to know what was going on; Wijesinghe said that efforts to sweep things under the carpet should be examined against the backdrop of enactment of the Right to Information law.

The section pertaining to the Auditor General in the 19thAmendment to the Constitution had given the department immense power and authority to intervene in the public sector, Wijesinghe said. “We can now inquire into entire gamut of issues, including security systems at state institutions. Current investigations are being conducted in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.”

Wijesinghe said that had there been a mistake or a serious lapse on the part of an official he was ready to inquire into it in his capacity as the AG with an open mind. However, the situation would be very different had the mistakes and lapses were repeated, Wijesinghe said.

Soft spoken Wijesinghe warned of the corrupt of dire consequences. Wijesinghe said that those corrupt elements would be birds or four legged animals in their rebirth. Wijesinghe made the reference to the corrupt and those who neglected their responsibilities being ended up as birds thrice in his speech.

Asserting that the vast majority of public servants discharged their duties honestly, Wijesinghe alleged that small group of corrupt but influential elements continued to manipulate the entire system for their benefit at the expense of the country. Wijesinghe said that government servants shouldn’t be the pets of their superiors. Urging government servants to hold their ground whatever the pressure exerted on them by superiors, Wijesinghe said adding that the worse that could have happened was a transfer. Wijesinghe said that it would be better to receive transfer than end up behind bars.

Some people caused massive losses to the country for their personal benefit. Declaring that the public service had been in dire straits for want of proper direction, Wijesinghe said that those who performed their duties honestly and to the satisfaction of masses were in fact acquired merits. Wijesinghe said that they wouldn’t have to especially go to temples had they honestly discharged their duties.

Responding to criticism directed at him by various interested parties, Wijesinghe emphasized that he couldn’t be faulted by anyone for promoting much touted yahapalana practices of accountability and transparency. Reiterating his determination and commitment to pursue his strategy, Wijesinghe said that his department would vigorously push forward.

The AG said he was not going to face legal action under Right to Information law by hiding facts. “Why should I hide facts and end up in courts.”

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