Corruption remains a grave a challenge to the promotion of good governance, sustainable development, democracy, peace and stability. When the public feels that their government is stealing from the people, it leads to an erosion of trust and confidence in public institutions said Royal Norwegian Ambassador for Sri Lanka, H E. Ms. Grete Løchen.
When institutions charged with exercising scrutiny and control, such as audit institutions, parliaments, ombudsmen, and the judiciary and police are not delivering or seen as biased and not independent, the whole basis for democratic development is undermined she further said.
Royal Norwegian Ambassador emphasised this when she participated in the launch of Transparency International Sri Lanka’s Governance Report 2012/13 as the chief guest at BMICH on 29th Thursday 2014.
Below is the full text of her speech.
Thank you for inviting me. It’s an honour to be here today for the launch of the Governance Report 2012/2013 of TISL. It is an important report but in many ways it’s quite depressing reading. The report focuses on important areas related to governance issues and provide important information and views which will hopefully generate public debate and scrutiny. Being a watchdog is an important role civil society is playing in any country; also in mine. It is critical in protecting democratic space and the interest of the common man and woman.
Good governance is a great opportunity for any government to show people friendly execution of power. One aspect of governance is corruption. Corruption remains a grave a challenge to the promotion of good governance, sustainable development, democracy, peace and stability. When the public feels that their government is stealing from the people, it leads to an erosion of trust and confidence in public institutions. When institutions charged with exercising scrutiny and control, such as audit institutions, parliaments, ombudsmen, and the judiciary and police are not delivering or seen as biased and not independent, the whole basis for democratic development is undermined.
I think we are all concerned over the fact that Sri Lanka slides further down in the corruption perception index but also other governance indexes which one of the articles in the Governance report shows. In order to reverse this dangerous trend, public institutions need to be more open about their work.
Implementing a right to Information Act could be one step in the right direction. As we know most countries in the region have such a law. Also in Norway we have a Freedom of Information Act, which secures the public’s right to access all state and municipal documents. It simply serves as a tool for the public to keep the Government accountable.
Without organizations such as Transparency International and other watch dog orgnaizations the fight for good governance will simply not succeed. Not in Norway, not in Sri Lanka.
But uncovering and reporting on bad governance is not a popular job and we know that as a watchdog you’re not only attacking- but you also come under attack yourself. Rest assured that you’re not alone. I’m proud that Norway has supported Transparency’s activities here in Sri Lanka for many years.
Your work has resulted in getting governance issues, including corruption on the agenda in the police, in the private sector, among Parliamentarians, journalists and youth groups. The Sri Lanka Governance Report has also contributed to a greater awareness among the public.
We have to work together. Of course, nobody can do everything- but everybody can do something. Working together, we can find real and tangible results. But the time to start is not next year or next month. It’s now.
Reports such as the Governance Report launched today should be viewed, as a contribution to Sri Lanka’s post-war development agenda as well as the global development agenda post 2015. Sri Lanka should be proud of itself having produced such a report.