The Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law No. 1 of 1975 is one of the key statutes introduced in Sri Lanka with a view to combating large-scale corruption. The main purpose of this Law is to compel members of the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature, as well as politicians to disclose their assets and liabilities.This disclosure will ensure that the illegal accumulation of wealth from undisclosed sources is prevented. A reasonable assumption may be that if officials and politicians are unwilling to disclose his/her assets and liabilities and the sources thereof, the money so accumulated may have been earned from corruption and other illegitimate means.
This Law has the following main features that warrant emphasis:The Prime Minister, Cabinet of Ministers, Parliamentarians, successful and unsuccessful candidates at various elections, Staff grade public officials, Directors of Statutory Corporations and Judges are among those who are required to disclose their assets and liabilities.
Each of these persons is required to disclose their assets and liabilities, as well as that of family members. Foreign assets must be disclosed as well.
The general public is entitled to obtain copies of the Declarations of Assets and Liabilities of any of these persons upon payment of a prescribed fee.
The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (Bribery Commission) is vested with powers to investigate the Declarations of Assets and Liabilities and prosecute those who have made false declarations. Additionally, the Attorney General, as well as the Department of Inland Revenue, is authorized to call for declarations for various purposes.
Although this Law has been in operation since 1975, it has not been effectively implemented for various reasons. The main reason appears to be the lack of sufficient and experienced staff in the Bribery Commission. TI Sri Lanka regrets to note that there is also a lack of commitment and co-operation by successive Governments to support the Bribery Commission in the implementation of�� the Assets and Liabilities Law.
It is often alleged that politicians including Ministers have either constantly failed to submit Declarations or submitted false declarations or failed to make the submissions within the prescribed period.
We, therefore, request all senior officials of the Government as well as the politicians of all the political parties, particularly Ministers, to declare their assets and liabilities as required by this Law within the stipulated time period.
We also request the general public to raise this issue of Declarations of Assets and Liabilities of senior public officials and politicians. The public must help facilitate the prosecution of corrupt officials and politicians, by providing the Bribery Commission with any information that may establish unlawful accumulation of wealth by Government Officials and politicians.