Sri Lanka: AG Slightly Answers Finance Minister’s pooh-pooh

‘Media’s darling’ says he is darling only to his wife

(February 7, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe, one of rarest professional and wise administrative officer in Sri Lanka, yesterday said that he was darling only to his wife.

Referring to a recent remark by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, a man who is under fire over corruption allegations, that the AG is the darling of the media, a smiling Wijesinghe stressed that he had to address issues which attracted media attention.

Addressing a group of senior staff of the Colombo Municipal Council ( CMC) at the Mayor’s Residence, Wijesinghe said that he would have to be cautious due to the presence of the media.

Addressing top CMC administration at the official residence of the Mayor of Colombo, Wijesinghe alleged that garbage collection as well as disposal had been turned into mega business at the expense of the hapless people.

Wijesinghe said that the CMC had neglected its duty and should accept responsibility for the current situation. Wijesinghe alleged that the CMC would never solve the problem as it was beneficial for some to continue with the lucrative project.

Successive CMC administrations had ignored the requirement to introduce changes, he charged. Wijesinghe challenged those top CMC officials and administrators to prove any one of them worked for more than four hours. “Please work for five hours. It’ll make a big difference,” Wijesinghe said, alleging that successive CMC administrations hadn’t taken tangible measures to introduce much required changes in the system to enhance and make it easier for taxpayers.

The outspoken official alleged that some institutions thrived on various projects. Some would wait for the ADB or the World Bank to fund projects to improve systems. Please address simple problems. That’ll automatically have an impact on the system. The situation will improve.”

Wijesinghe condemned the latest accounts submitted to the AG’s Department. Although, the CMC had been able to improve its performance compared to previous years, the Auditor General said the latest accounts reflected the poor status of the current administration.

He also censured the administration for its failure to collect unpaid taxes amounting to millions of rupees and neglecting the need for tax revision.

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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