Corruption Free Society: Judge yourself
Posted on December 10th, 2017


“It is true; there was always corruption and fraud. But the extent of corruption in Sri Lanka in the last few years is utterly unprecedented”

Thus lamented President Sirisena in the segment ‘My Vision’ in his presidential election manifesto 2015 titled ‘Compassionate Government, Maithri: A Stable Country”. In the same manifesto he promised to ‘provide ten times development’ than that of the last government’s, ‘just by stopping corruption and wastage’.

The UNP led by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, too, made such a solemn pledge in its manifesto “A new country in sixty months: Five point plan” for the Parliamentary Election of 17 August 2015.

The people who were fed up with widespread and uncontrolled corruption during the previous administration believed them. Both leaders were victorious at the respective elections. Mr. Sirirsena became President and Mr. Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister. What happened thereafter was the complete opposite of what they promised. Here is only one example out of many which, in my view, vividly displays the dishonesty, callous disregard and cynical attitude on the part of our rulers towards the people who elected them to power.

Following the submission of the Cabinet paper no: 16/0309/702/010 by the Prime Minister of the yahapalana government on 17 February 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers, headed by the President, granted approval to lease a building at 228, Sri Jayawardanepura Mawatha, Rajagiriya to house the Ministry of Agriculture at a rent of Rs.21 million per month. It also required a down payment of rent for two years, amounting to Rs. 504 million. The government valuer’s assessment of the value of the same building amounted to Rs. 13.5 million a month, which was Rs. 7.5 million less than the rental agreed by the Ministry of Agriculture. The reason given for the relocation of the Ministry from Govijana Mandiraya in Battaramulla to the proposed location was to provide that space to be used by oversight committees of the Parliament.

On 7 April 2016 the Committee of Public Accounts (COPA) informed the Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture of its inability to approve the leasing of the proposed building without following government procurement procedures. The Secretary of any Ministry is the Chief Accounting Officer of that entity, and must comply with directives from the Auditor General, COPA and the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). In spite of that, Secretary, Agriculture and the owner of the building, D.P. Jayasinghe Tours and Transport, signed the lease agreement on 8 April 2016.

The most interesting part of this story is, according to sources, the Ministry of Agriculture is yet to relocate to the leased building while the monthly rental is being paid to the owner. A JVP MP told Parliament recently that the electricity bill of the building for the past three months alone stood at Rs. 4.9 million.

Media reported on Thursday, December 7 that a supplementary estimate for Rupees 6,60,40,00 to cover expenses relating to the still unused building including monthly rent and local government taxes was tabled in the House by Minister Lakshman Kiriella, one of the vociferous anti-corruption politicians.

Meanwhile sixteen floors of office space at the recently built and government owned Suhurupaya building in Battaramulla remain unoccupied.

President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe, due to their extremely busy schedules with burning national problems may have forgotten what they promised during elections. But where are all the anti-corruption crusaders from the Movement for a Just Society, ‘Puravesi Balaya’,‘Pivitutru Hetak’,‘Janata Pavura’, ‘Vame Kendraya’, ‘Wathman Parapura’, Friday Forum and university dons specially from the University of Colombo Etc. Etc. one of whose main tasks is fighting corruption?

One Response to “Corruption Free Society: Judge yourself”

  1. Nimal Says:

    We had the worst corrupt lot since the so called independence, robbing us pitilessly and show them selves as religious and cultured and get some useless, no good cheer leaders to praise them and insult the noble faith with setting up a sasana,etc,just to con us. There will be a day of reckoning for them.

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