Placing Finance Ministry under President ruins fiscal discipline –Auditor General
Posted on February 8th, 2018

by Rathindra Kuruwita Courtesy The Island

One of the main reasons for the deterioration of fiscal discipline in the country was the President taking over the Finance Ministry, Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe told the media yesterday.

“This made the Finance Ministry Secretary lose his head. He wouldn’t even respect a minister and after a while violating the fiscal regulations became the order of the day. Things have become better now after President Sirisena let go of the Finance Ministry,” he said.

Wijesinghe, however, said the Mafia consisting of the secretaries to ministries had been behind the delaying of the National Audit Bill on 24 occasions as they were opposed to powers being vested in the National Audit Commission.

“The secretaries who are also the chief accounting officers of the ministries are the main reasons why there is no fiscal indiscipline in this country.

Wijesinghe said: “The state officials have become too flexible and allow politicians to do what they want. But as the Sil Redi (white cloth) case proved the Secretary to the Ministry can’t say that he did something in violation of the establishment code and other regulations, because a Minister or even the President says so. In the same manner the former Central Bank Governor can’t say he issued a larger tranche of treasury bonds because the Prime Minister said he needs money to pay debts,” he said.

The Auditor General said that some sought to justify the state officials’ behaviour saying that if a ministry secretary ignored the Minister’s dictates, he would be sent to the pool. However, there was no reason for an official to fear being sent to the pool as they continued to receive the same salaries.”

“The only reason they don’t want to go to the pool is that they lose various perks and other incentives,” he said.

Wijesinghe said that once the audit bill was passed, he would be able to recruit necessary personnel and carryout stringent auditing of the economy which would benefit the country. He also expressed the belief that the country needed a Procurement Act as corruption took place during the procurement stage.

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