Curbing public sector corruption won’t be easy: S’pitiya

Deputy Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya on Tuesday (September 15) told a press conference at the Finance Ministry that the Rajapaksa government was trying to curb waste, corruption and irregularities in the public sector.

The Kegalle District MP said that fighting corruption in the growing public sector was not an easy task.

He was responding to The Island query whether damning findings made by two parliamentary watchdog committees, Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Auditor General as well as recent Supreme Court rulings on several corrupt deals reflected the rapidly deteriorating standards in public finance.

The minister did not respond to the query on corrupt oil hedging deal involving officials of the CPC and several other pubic and private sector institutions, including banks.

Siyambalapitiya said that their task in fighting corruption would not be easy due to presence of ministers with different backgrounds in the ruling coalition. He emphasised that the government would not cover up irregularities but deftly investigate allegations. A case in point was the detection of VAT fraud by the UPFA government. He said that it would not be reasonable to criticise the government on the basis of COPE findings.

At the beginning of the press conference, the junior Finance Minister said that the UPFA would not engage in any financial irregularities. He said that the government would not be a burden to taxpayers.

The minister and Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, assistant Governor of the Central Bank said that contrary to Opposition claims that the country was experiencing a severe economic crisis, the situation could not have been better. The end of the war would help the country to make a rapid economic recovery, they said accusing the Opposition and so-called economic pundits sympathetic to the UNP’s cause of playing politics with economy.

Responding to our queries, Dr. Weerasinghe said that immediately after their agreement with the IMF in July, the country received USD 326 million and the second instalment would be available shortly.

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