“Persons who get caught taking bribes are not only penalised under the law but the society too rejects them. Public officials should not only refrain from taking bribes or indulge in other corrupt practices but also act with responsibility towards minimizing bribery and corruption.
” This was the advice given by Director-General of the Commission on Bribery or Corruption, Lakshmi Jayatilleka delivering the keynote address at the workshop on good governance organized by TISL for officials of the Department of Immigration and Emigration.
Stressing the need for public officials to be conversant with rules and regulations on bribery and corruption, Ms Wijetilleka pointed out that anyone taking a bribe, if found guilty, will be sentenced to seven years imprisonment. In addition, the guilty party will be fined a sum of not less than Rs 5000 and will lose the job. He or she will never be able join government service thereafter, she said.
Explaining what corruption means, she said that if a public official uses his or her authority either to do something beneficial to himself, to some other person or to the government or takes some action that would incur a loss to the government, such action amounts to a corrupt practice.
Pointing out that it was after the unanimous vote in Parliament that the Bribery Commission was established, she said that the Commission has been given wide powers. Ministers, Members of Parliament, Governors, members of provincial councils and other local bodies, public servants, authorized surveyors, chairmen and members of mediation bodies, officials of corporations and jurists are among personnel who can be brought before the Bribery Commission. It also has the power to call for files in any government department for examination. Offices can also be examined and any officials who would try to prevent such examination can be dealt with under the Bribery Commission Act.
She added that the Commission can initiate action only if there is a complaint on bribery or corruption and such complaints can even be anonymous.
Reminding that government officials are expected to serve the public , Ms Wijetilleka appealed to the officials not to accept a gratification from the public which she said is an offence.
At least 350 officials will receive training under the TISL programme.