The National Audit Office’s final report into Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and its expenses related to the travel of players and officials to last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, has reignited the debate on if SLC should come under government oversight.
The final report comes weeks after SLC responded to observations in the draft audit report, which was leaked and made waves on mainstream and social media, that, among other findings, highlighted a massive expenditure of Rs. 68 million by SLC to send 14 of its officials to Australia for the T20 World Cup.
SLC has long argued that it is essentially a private entity with the money it receives belonging to its membership, and therefore it did not have to be accountable to the public, and by extension the government, for how it chose to spend its finances.
However, the National Audit Office has expressed a differing opinion, stating that, as SLC had fielded a team that represented the country, it could not deviate from the requirement of its activities being monitored by the government.
“As the institution engaged in prioritizing the use of the official brand and representation of the national team, paying attention to establish a legal environment where the essential requirement of performance of activities subject to Government monitoring cannot be deviated from,” the report, signed by the Auditor General WPC Wickramaratne recommended.
The auditor general also recommended that amendments should be made to the Sports Act “in order for the relevant annual reports to be presented to parliament thereby strengthening the control of Parliament over all of the national sports associations and authorizing such associations to be summoned to the Committees.”
The audit office also stressed that sports associations should avoid being involved in the obtaining of visas for parties that cannot be considered as persons proceeding abroad officially – ostensibly a recommendation stemming from the revelation that SLC had issued 37 letters to individuals not directly involved with SLC for their visa application process.
Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe has shown a keenness to bring systematic changes to SLC, by way of introducing a new constitution.
SLC have conceded that constitutional reforms were necessary, but the Minister’s move to appoint a 10-member committee to draft a proposed new constitution was “illegal” and “interfered with the Constitution and due functioning of Sri Lanka Cricket.”
Last week, through the Court of Appeal SLC obtained an interim order that prevented the Minister from going ahead with the proposed new constitution.