Sri Lanka Brief
NewsDeclare assets or face Bribery Commission, politicians told

Declare assets or face Bribery Commission, politicians told

The Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya’s decision to crack the whip in a bid to enforce compliance with the law that requires those holding political office to declare assets has had the desired impact. All political parties are making a frantic effort to meet the deadline he has set.

UPFA General Secretary and Minister Susil Premjayantha said that the government would comply with Elections Commissioner’s decision to inquire into the financial status of those holding positions in political parties.

Asked whether the UPFA was comfortable with the polls chief’s move, the Petroleum Minister said that soon after receiving instructions from the Elections Secretariat regarding the impending inquiry, he had brought it to the notice of all those affected by the decision.

The Colombo District MP said that they had been asked to furnish the relevant information on or before June 30, 2012.

Minister Premajayantha acknowledged that the financial status of office bearers of political parties had never been looked into in spite of a legal requirement. Responding to a query, he said that there were moves to have politicians and senior officials of political parties investigated by the Bribery Commission, unless they complied with the polls chief’s directive. He stressed that the Elections Secretariat could depend on the Bribery Commission to inquire into those turning a blind eye to his missive.

The minister said that all constituents of the UPFA would abide by the polls chief’s missive.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP, couldn’t be contacted as he was overseas.

“Those failing to furnish their financial status to the Elections Secretariat will have to go before the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption. They are liable to be prosecuted, unless they comply with a directive issued by the Elections Secretariat,” the polls chief said.

Once the June 30 deadline lapsed, those who had failed to comply with the law would be reported to the Bribery Commission, the Polls Chief said.

The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), too, emphasised the need to take urgent measures to ensure the free operation of independent commissions.

The Elections Commissioner said that the JVP had always furnished the required information to the Elections Secretariat, regularly.

According him, ministers would have to furnish their details to the President and MPs to the Speaker. In the case of ministers and MPs holding positions in political parties, they would still have to keep the Elections Secretariat informed, even if they furnished their details to the President and the Speaker.

Responding to a query, Deshapriya said that he had to furnish his own assets declaration to the Secretary to the President.

Deshapriya commended the JVP for adhering to the law, though it hadn’t been implemented earlier. JVP spokesperson Vijitha Herath, MP, told The Island yesterday that the JVP believed in financial integrity and transparency and always complied with the existing law, though it wasn’t implemented. The MP welcomed the polls chief’s move to take a look at the asset declarations of those in politics, in the wake of persistent allegations of waste, corruption and irregularities directed at those in power. He said: “What we need are tangible measures to ensure that those at the helm do not profit at the expense of the national economy. Due to the failure on the part of officialdom to act against those thieving politicians and their associates, the country is experiencing difficulties.”
 shamindra Ferdinando

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