Following the decision by the Presidential Secretariat to go before the Court of Appeal against the declaration of assets and liabilities of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, which are filed at the President Secretariat, Transparency International (TI), the organisation which called for information under the Right-To-Information (RTI) Act, finds the new situation quite surprising, Executive Director of TI, Asoka Obeyesekere told the Sunday Observer yesterday.
Transparency International filed RTIs on February 3, 2017, calling for asset declarations of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for 2015 and 2016.
Later it was announced by the RTI Commission that there was a gap in the law to issue the asset declaration of the President while he is in office. However, the RTI Commission had ordered the Presidential Secretariat to release the assets declaration of the Prime Minister, in December last year.
“The RTI Commission’s ruling was historic. Now, the President’s office is seeking to block that. This is nothing but a clear example that many politicians are trying to protect one another without allowing public accountability on issues such as this,” Obeyesekere said.
TI received a letter a few days ago stating that the Presidential Secretariat was not willing to issue the assets declaration of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and hopes to appeal against the decision of the Right to Information Commission.
“We find this, really surprising because the President levelled some serious allegations against the Prime Minister in the final quarter of last year. When such allegations are levelled, especially regarding corruption, information must be in the public domain,” he said.
Meanwhile, TI plans to call on some other Parliamentarians to declare their assets voluntarily. “Based on the discussions we have had, we are hopeful that some Members of Parliament, who feel this sort of information should be in the public domain, will release their asset declarations themselves. I won’t name those people right now. But we may have a press conference in the near future with their participation,” Obeyesekere said.
Above Cartoon by Gihan de Chickera / Daily Mirror .