Politicians’ asset declarations to be open for public scrutiny


Pushpi Weerakoon (OGP CSO Coordinator) addresing the media at the OPA yesterday. Members of Civil Society Steering Committee Maithreyi Rajasingam (Ex Director Program-Viluthu), Aaranya Rajasingam (Ex Director Legal-Viluthu), Sriyanie Wijesundera (Programme Manager-CPA), , Nishantha (Manager communication-Sarvodaya), Asoka Obeyesekere (Executive Director-TISL), Sonali De Silva (Chair-PILF) and Mihiri Gunawardene (Director-PILF) Asad Mahamed (Ex Director legal-ESDF Batticaloa) and Jeevan Thiagarajah (Ex director - CHA) also present.

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Declarations of politicians’ assets and liabilities would be opened to the general public and laws amended for that purpose, Executive Director of the Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) Asoka Obeyesekere said.

Addressing the media at the Organisation of Professionals Associations (OPA) to announce the progress of the Open Government Partnership programme (OGP), he said at present all were talking about declaration of assets of MPs only during elections.

Obeyesekere said they had included it in their two-year action plan prepared after public consultation and in association with civil society organisation.

The Right to Information (RTI) Bill was a long time need and it was finally presented to Parliament yesterday, he said, adding that it should be strictly implemented after its passage.

"We will also include the implementation of RTI in the final report," Obeyesekere said, noting that they had prepared a two-year action plan to implement together with the government a la the present government’s 100 day programme.

OGP Civil Society Coordinator Pushpi Weerakoon said the OGP had been launched in 2001 by eight government and eight civil society leaders as a partnership to improve government transparency, accountability and responsiveness to citizens.

It had brought together reformers from across government and civil society ranks who recognised that governments were much more likely to be more effective and credible when they opened their doors to public input and oversight, Weerakoon said, adding that civil society should not just be critical voices on the outside, but should have an important role in crafting the policies that affect the everyday lives of citizens.

She said Sri Lanka had joined OGP in Oct. 2015 as the 69th country in the world and the only country in the South Asia. Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed the declaration at the OGP global summit in Mexico.

Weerakoon said they had held public consultancy meetings in nine provinces together with the civil society organisations from March.

"We will publish the draft final report in newspapers and relevant websites in the middle of July for public comments," she said, adding that after amending it with public comments the final report would be released on August.

Representatives of several civil society organisations which participated in the public consultation meetings also spoke at the media conference.

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