espite pledges being implemented, some dimensions of maintaining law and order and the rule of law, corruption and bribery are still known to be rampant specially in state sector institutions and even in public-private partnership companies. So much so that a law was passed recently to appoint three special three-Judge High Courts to hear mainly corruption and bribery cases.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Sunday, these courts would hear about 20 corruption cases on a daily basis with a view to completing them in months and not years while penalizing the wrongdoers not only with jail terms or fines but forcing them to reimburse the money they plundered from people’s funds.
Addressing a UNP Balamandala meeting at Maharagama the Prime Minister said the expediting of the corruption cases would not only be in relation to allegations against VIP politicians or officials of the former regime but even those in the current regime.
He said a major change by the Yahapalanaya government was that ministers who faced allegations of corruption were told to resign even before their cases were taken up and they were proven guilty.
He said media freedom had also been restored and journalists were free to highlight allegations even against government leaders with no threats of killings or white van abductions, as happened during the former regime. But the Prime Minister has regularly appealed to the private media to act with responsibility and for the common good of the people of our country and its economy instead of highlighting cases based on the vested interests of some business tycoon.
The Prime Minister added that the changes made so far, such as the restoration of the rule of law, needed to be maintained for the success of the government’s sustainable, eco-friendly and all-inclusive economic policy based on the vision 2025 strategy.
Earlier this month, the United States State Department announced its continued assistance to Sri Lanka and three other countries to prevent and combat corruption. In a statement, the State Department said the US government had provided foreign assistance for anti-corruption efforts in Sri Lanka since 2016 to improve the functioning of the country’s legal system and civil society and to enhance good governance.
According to the World Bank more than US$ 20 billion (about Rs. 3,062 billion) is plundered by corrupt politicians and officials annually. The WB said these funds should be used to ensure the sustainable development of the countries for essential services such as schools, hospitals and roads, rather than lining the pockets of corrupt politicians and officials.
On December 9, the United Nations marked International Anti-Corruption Day on the theme ‘’united against corruption for development, peace and security.’’
It made the shocking revelation that as much as US$ one trillion was paid in bribes while an estimated US$ 2.6 trillion was plundered annually through corruption -- equivalent to more than 5 per cent of the global GDP. The UN warned “corruption or bribery is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies.”