WB queries long delay in Audit Bill
Deteriorating financial discipline:December 8, 2011, 12:00 pm
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The World Bank has inquired of Auditor General H. A. S. Samarasekera why the National Audit Bill aimed at tackling waste, corruption and irregularities in the public sector has not received government approval.
The World Bank is of the opinion the new Bill would help Sri Lanka curb public sector corruption. Former AG S. Swarnajothi declared in his 2007 annual report that the new Bill would be ready in 2008.
Authoritative sources told The Island that the Draft national Audit Bill, together with the required amendments to the Constitution, had been prepared by an expert team and then reviewed by a presidential committee years back. Although presidential committee’s recommendations had been incorporated into the proposed Draft Bill, it was yet to receive the the Attorney General’s nod, sources said.
Responding to a query, a senior Auditor General’s Department official said that recent revelations made by COPE, primarily on the basis of inquiries conducted by the AG, underscored the urgent need to activate the National Audit Bill.
The new Bill proposes to make AG a parliamentary officer with financial and administrative independence in addition to guaranteeing his or her functional independence.
Some of the key suggestions are: Setting up of a Constitutional Audit Council comprising the Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, Chairman of COPE and a member and Chairman of PAC and a member under the leadership of Speaker, a new Audit Service Commission similar to the Judicial Service Commission and appointment of a qualified independent auditor to audit the AG’s Department.
The AG’s Department in July 2008 received a $ 10.5 mn from the International Development Agency (IDA) to strengthen the department. The Department said that the funds were to be utilised to transform the institution into a modern Supreme Audit Institution on the basis of the recommendations by the National Audit Office of the UK and the Dutch National Court of Audit.
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