Citizens losing control of public finances - Eran

* Powerful bureaucrats exceeding their mandate

Opposition MP Eran Wickramaratne says the Parliament, which according to the constitution exercises supreme authority over public finances on behalf of the country’s citizens, is fast losing its grip on public finances with the Executive exercising more power.

"When I entered Parliament I was surprised to find that there was no budget committee. There is no budget office either," the national list UNPer told the annual sessions of the Sri Lanka Economic Association last Saturday (20).

He said the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises which unravelled several glaring misdeeds in the public sector had no power to enforce laws nor implement corrective measures. "So where do we go from here?"

"There are various consultative committees in parliament, but members are appointed by the Executive and they dominate the proceedings. We are seeing a dilution of legislative powers by the Executive. There are also some non-elected powerful bureaucrats acting beyond their mandate.

"The economy is also experiencing what I call creeping nationalism. Public funds (EPF) are being used to invest in private sector businesses such as banks. This is alright, but we have the regulator who is supposed to ensure fit and proper persons are appointed to bank director boards directly being involved in such appointments. In the long run such behaviour would affect development and growth," Wickramaratne, former CEO of NDB Bank, said.

He also said the Executive and justice system enjoyed an unhealthy relationship.

For whatever reason this has broken down today, but the status quo was not something desirable for the country, he said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the annual sessions, Wickramaratne said judges should be paid lucrative salaries in order to ensure financial independence and to prevent conflicts of interest arising from relationships with the executive.

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