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Sri Lanka is a Corrupt Nation

Sri Lanka is a Corrupt Nation

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Published by: Thavam on Jul 09, 2013
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07/10/2013

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By Easwaran Rutnam-
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Public sector corruption is still high in Sri Lanka, and by the looks of it we have a long way to go toclear our name. According to Transparency International, Sri Lanka is ranked 79 from among 174countries in the corruption index for last year as compared to 86 the previous year.The least corrupt nation is at number one while the worst is at number 174 and basedon that Sri Lanka is on the margin between the good and bad.Sri Lanka is only one rank better than China, who just so happens to be Sri Lanka’sbiggest development assistance partner.What the government cannot be proud of however is that countries like Tunisia andRwanda are better than Sri Lanka when it comes to corruption in the public sector.The police are among the corrupt public sector workers in Sri Lanka as they acceptbribes when carrying out investigations or are on traffic duty.Even the State owned Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) is corrupt and this, in part,caused the increase in electricity tariffs recently.Giving evidence before a Transparency International people’s tribunal last Thursdayon whether electricity bills were justified, the People’s Movement Against IncreasingElectricity Tariffs representative Saman Rathnapriya said the CEB losses, corruptionand wastage were the reason for the recent exponential tariff increase.Rathnapriya said he had documents that he would place before the tribunal, whichindicated that the Sampur power plant currently under construction would be aninefficient one that would place further burdens on the electricity consumers once theplant was commissioned.Rathnapriya charged that the Power Minister at the time John Seneviratne had notbeen aware of the Sampur Agreement and that Sri Lanka had entered into theagreement with an Indian company without the approval of the CEB board of directors.He said that while the agreement claimed the Sampur plant would run at 40%efficiency the actual efficiency of the plant was 35% resulting in losses of between 2.6and 4.9 billion rupees.
 
One of the most notable cases in public sector corruption came to light when the NorthCentral Province Road Development Authority (NCP RDA) interdicted two of itshighest ranking officers and started investigating allegations of massive corruptionprior to the Deyata Kirula exhibition in 2012.The Transparency International Sri Lanka led Coalition Against Corruption (CAC) hadrevealed that over 3,000 million rupees had been swindled during the construction anddevelopment of roads by the NCP RDA prior to the exhibition.The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) hadlaunched an investigation following a written complaint by the NCP RDA officials alongwith the provincial administration.NCP RDA also suspended payment of Rs 14, 000 million to the contractors who wereallegedly authorized to repair the roads affected by floods during year 2011.These acts of fraud had taken place when roads were extended to cover about410km. More than 30 roads were developed before the Deyata Kirula exhibition. Anallocation of Rs 7,500 million had been made for the development of roads during theperiod 2008 – 2012. It included Rs 2,500 million from the North Central Province Fund,Rs 1,500 million from JICA and Rs 3,500 million from the Asian Development Bank.Inspector General of Police, N. K. Ilangakoon had also directed the police to conductan investigation into this massive corruption after officials of the NCP RDA made thecomplaint.In order to eliminate corruption in the public sector, Transparency International saysthe CIABOC needs to be given greater independence and empowerment, and haveadequate human and infrastructure resources.It also said that there are areas of essential legal reforms in enhancing the operationalefficiency and effectiveness of Anti-Bribery and Corruption based law enforcements.Right to information, whistle blower protection and witness protection are some of thekey areas Transparency International feels need to be in place as a step to fightcorruption.Transparency International says all stakeholders must have access to information fromState agencies on time and in required detail. Sri Lanka still lacks a robust Right toInformation law. Its enactment will be a great inducement to our common vision.Transparency International also says corruption is a main factor that preventsinvestment. A safe equal playing field for investment requires the absence of corruption. Elimination of corruption is possible through effective anti-corruptionmeasures. A primary need is to have an effective whistle blower protection system.It also says an equally important aspect of a conducive environment is effectivewitness protection. In the absence of whistle blower and witness protection,eliminating corruption will not be possible. A Few Detections By CIABOC This Year  A Police Constable attached to the Uppuweli Police Station was taken intocustody by the Investigation Officers of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption on 13 March 2013 for soliciting andaccepting Rs 3000 in order to grant relief on a complaint lodged by thecomplainant regarding a dispute over money.

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