Opening the ‘Shelter for Integrity’ – a Center for Legal Advice against Corruption, Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, Padma Siriwardena promised to extend the fullest cooperation of the Ministry to make the Center a success.
This is yet another initiative of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) in furtherance of its mission of ‘building a nation that upholds integrity’.
Pointing out that the media is constantly highlighting bribery and corruption, she lauded the idea of having a Center of this nature which will be useful for the citizens to get an idea of how they can move forward in handling corruption. In Buddhist terms, she described the project as “a meritorious deed.”
Ms Siriwardena referred to the plight of certain public servants who are still trying to get redress following the 1980 July strike even though eight circulars have been issued relating to the subject. “Some are ignorant of what is in these circulars. Lot of our time is taken on Wednesdays (the public day) in explaining these.”
Welcoming those present, TISL Chairman M D A Harold said that the Center is intended to support the development of the country and enhance good governance. “One of the key elements in good governance practices is the mechanisms to record public grievances and seek redress. A study of public complaints mechanisms in Sri Lanka has shown that there are over 30 public institutions having statutory provisions to deal with public complaints. Although these mechanisms are in place, the public do not know about them.”
He added that the ‘Shelter for Integrity’ is intended to bridge this gap and it is a mechanism that will assist the public to find solutions to their grievances. “It will support the State institutions to strengthen their governing structures”, he stressed.
Describing the occasion as “a momentous one” in TISL’s journey towards integrity, Mr Harold requested those present to support TISL in the months to come to make the ;project a success.
Coordinator of the project, Sashee de Mel made a presentation on how the Center will operate.
The Center will provide the public with the opportunity of seeking legal advice free of charge when faced with an incident of corruption while obtaining a service from a State institution. The Center will mediate between the State institution and the complainant in order to find lasting solutions to the grievances of the public and strengthen the governance and service delivery of State institutions.
TISL believes that the Center will empower citizens to make and pursue corruption related complaints and bring about a change in their attitude towards corruption and realize that corruption is not insurmountable. The Center will also be able to support State institutions through evidence, solutions and capacity building their own initiatives to eliminate corruption and enhance principles of good governance.
The Center housed at No 6, 37th lane, Queen’s Road, Colombo 3 will operate a hotline – no (011) 2055555 – from 16 April 2012.