Asoka Obeysekere Executive Director of the TISL presented an amendment bill to Maithreepala Sirisena the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to empower the media and the public to scrutinise and discuss the asset declarations of senior public servants.
The Declaration of Asset and Liabilities Act empowers any person to obtain, on payment of 750 rupees, the asset declaration of a public servant falling within the scope of this act. This includes all parliamentarians, with requests for backbencher declarations being given to the honourable Speaker of Parliament and requests for minister declarations being given to the President.
Having tested this system, and found out that it works. The issue lies in the fact that no one can share the information requested. But you are liable to either a fine of Rs. 2000 or up to a 2-year jail sentence. Given that every person has the right to obtain a declaration, the need for a penalty for showing a fellow rights holder is unnecessary and illustrates the laws lack of sync with Yahapalanaya.
This in the lead up to the two key elections of 2015, one area that attracted significant public interest was the asset declarations of members of parliament. Given the media discussion around the alleged large accumulations of wealth of politicians, the asset declarations of MPs were considered a key method of ensuring that MPs remained accountable, with the knowledge that oversight bodies like CIABOC could look into any shortcomings in their declaration. However, despite all this public interest and coverage asset declarations remain a mystery.
TISL requests through the amendment to the bill to remove the secrecy provisions of the Act. It will remove the public fear of a jail sentence for discussing and sharing what is otherwise a right of every person. This will thereby strengthen the accountability of the public service to the people of this country.
TISL request the President and his cabinet of ministers to approve and table this Bill before Parliament. It will undoubtedly have full public support.
For more details visit: https://www.tisrilanka.org/?p=13311