President Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday though the Members of Parliament were not satisfied with their salaries, increasing their salaries would create a problem given the unfavourable situation in the Treasury.
He also said that his salary was also lesser than that of a Parliamentarian.
Bribery and Corruption is a major stumbling block when preparing feasibility reports, environment impact assessment reports, technical assessment reports, tender procedures and large scale development projects involving billions of rupees, President Maithripala Sirisena said.
He said the officials in charge were working hand in glove with some of the parties to the contract resulting in bribery and corruption.
The President said nearly 50% of the public institutions were engulfed in corruption, mismanagement and fraud but when those crimes were exposed, the finger was pointed at the subject ministers.
“Society talks so often of crimes, rapes and robberies, bribery and corruption committed by politicians and public officials but a debate on organized bribery and corruption was only a whimper despite the fact that bribery and corruption had a cancerous effect on the daily life of the people,” he said when delivering the keynote address at the inauguration of the 2016 National Summit on Anti Corruption held at the Hotel Taj Samudra yesterday.
The President said South Asian countries did not have a satisfactory record on eradicating bribery and corruption though most Western Countries had been able to do so because politicians and the officials were committed to eradicating such crimes as a policy matter.
“There is a new trend among public officials where they refuse to place their signature to approve funds for Government functions. Their excuse is that they may be summoned by the FCID, the PRECIFAC or even the CID. This is a misconception. No official must be afraid to do what’s right. An experienced official should know what is right and what violates FRs and ARs,” he said.
“I am sad to say that recently, there was a move by the management of a prominent State institution to fix a CCTV system at its office to control bribery, corruption and thefts. The entire staff took to the street against the management preventing the setting up of the cameras. In another instance, a public official who was transferred was not assigned any responsibilities for more than one and half years because he was not ready to fall in line with other officials taking bribes. This is the organized bribery and corruption entrenched in our public life. Another retired official of the Bribery Commission told me that the previous political leadership and other ministers used the Bribery Commission to keep other members of the government under their thumb.”
The President said these negative and distressing attitudes by officials that led him to make certain comments at the SLFI on the activities of independent commissions that created a big uproar in the country. “What I meant in that speech was the importance for public servants and public institutions, such as the Bribery Commission, the FCID, the CID, the Police or the PRECIFAC to be independent, impartial and right minded when performing their duties,” he said adding that the Government would be able to bridge the budget deficit if waste and corruption were eradicated and hoped the ‘2016 National Summit on Anti Corruption would find a way to do that.
The President said he decided to hold an anti corruption summit in Sri Lanka after he participated in the anti-corruption global summit in London on May 12 convened by the then British Prime Minister David Cameron.(Sandun A Jayasekera)