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Editorial - Blank cheques, not checks, for corruption

13 September 2012 07:32 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Despite election victories and boasts about achievements to make Sri Lanka a model or miracle of Asia, widespread corruption continues unchecked with politicians and others making millions at the top and thousands at the bottom. 
 
For instance, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation -- which plays a vital role in the economy of the country – continues to be on fire and under heavy fire in the aftermath of the multi-million-dollar frauds in the import of sub-standard fuel. After a probe committee submitted an interim report to the Petroleum Minister, the CPC Board of Directors resigned and a new Board was appointed while reports said the damage caused to hundreds of trains, buses, cranes and private vehicles because of the use of sub–standard diesel amounted to several million rupees.
 
According to latest reports, the fuel import bill has increased to such an extent that the CPC has been forced to stop spot buying and will buy only through the normal tender procedure. The wide-powered Public Utilities Commission, which has been overseeing the work of key institutions like the Ceylon Electricity Board and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board announced this week that new legislation had been finalized for the Commission to regulate the work of the CPC also. We hope this will work and help check fraud or corruption at the CPC. Media reports have also referred to speculation that Petroleum Industries Minister Susil Premajayantha might be replaced in a Cabinet reshuffle. But whether the new minister will be more accountable or transparent is another question because the two important virtues of democracy are seldom if ever practised in the government.  For instance though the CPC Chairman and Directors resigned and even if the minister himself is replaced who is to be held accountable or who will repay the millions of dollars in public funds lost because of the frauds and its consequences.

Accountability in recent years has virtually been taken out of the account books. After the blaze is brought under control, the officials who resigned will probably get some other appointments and the plunder of public funds will go on because there are no checks and balances, and the Constitution is virtually a blank cheque for those in power, top officials who act as their lap dogs, stooges or sycophants.
 
In terms of the Constitution, Parliament is expected to maintain control over public expenditure, but with the ruling UPFA having a steam-roller majority in Parliament, little or no monitoring takes place. Accountability, good governance, transparency and integrity have gone with the wind, and honesty has become a dirty word.
 
Such is the story on the overall economy also.  Most independent economic analysts believe that despite boasts of high growth rates and per capita incomes, the economy is largely exclusive or illusive. On Wednesday it was announced that our export earnings have hit their lowest levels with the garments, tea and rubber industries being among the worst affected. 
 
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  • Trevor Jayetileke Friday, 14 September 2012 01:03 AM

    Apart from 'One Man Show' Presidential Constitution we have a Pathetic Opposition whose leader does not respond to defeats in a Democratic Way and has changed its Constitution to accommodate even a loser for six years. A strong opposition is the first prerequisite for a vibrant democracy.
    The sticking point against reconciliation could be the Presidential Constitution which concentrates too much power at the center and very little at the periphery. The Rhodes Scholar is Mute ?


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