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President takes on corrupt accounting and audit practices


28 July 2015 04:49 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Says a new Auditing Act will be presented to Parliament soon after elections

President Maithripala Sirisena and Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka President Prof. Lakshman Watawala presenting a token of appreciation to International Federation of Accountants President Olivia Kirtley
Pic by Kushan Pathiraja

By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
President Maithripala Sirisena criticized the existing corrupt practices in the accounting and auditing professions and said a new Auditing Act would be forwarded to Parliament after the elections.

He said this making a special address at the inauguration of the Global Management Accounting Summit last night.

“We frequently hear about accounting frauds and corrupt practices. Therefore, management of finance and cost control are areas that need to be strengthened and go hand-in-hand with accountability and good governance,” he said.

According to Sirisena, the accountants are responsible for the fiscal discipline in the country, yet said that he has had bitter experiences about dealings with accountants during his various ministerial portfolios.

“When talking about good governance, if the accountants fulfil their duties of fiscal discipline in a direct and honest manner without fear, it will bring greater value to your profession,” he said.

Sirisena noted that internal audits have weakened significantly, as the past regime had appointed ‘Mudalalis’ as ministry secretaries, who are officers in charge of public finances.

“While there is an Auditor General, there are internal auditors in each ministry. They should make the job of the Auditor General easier. However, the internal auditing sections are very weak. Therefore, critical fiscal discipline issues arise,” Sirisena said.

He pointed at the weaknesses in the tender processes for public projects and stressed that accountants are responsible for the shortcomings.

“Accountants are directly or indirectly supporting corruption and the fraudulent activities of politicians. If the accountants and auditors fulfil their duties properly, no one else can engage in corruption or fraud,” he said.

Meanwhile, the President said that a new Auditing Act will be brought to Parliament in the coming months.

“Even though we couldn’t bring about positive changes towards fiscal discipline under the good governance platform in the past few months, bringing a new Auditing Act to be passed in Parliament following the upcoming elections will be given a high priority,” Sirisena said. He said that high hopes will be placed in the Act to eliminate frauds and corruption occurring in the tender processes.

“We should take all action to wipe out finance and accounting frauds to ensure the government, investors and people receive correct financial information,” he said. Sirisena noted that this would facilitate investment inflows of both local and foreign funds towards the development of the country.

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