Tough new laws to check public
* Sweeping powers to Auditor General
* Speaker to chair Constitutional Audit Council
The Government will shortly introduce the 20th
Amendment to the Constitution aimed at sweeping audit reforms in
a bid to ensure good governance and transparency in the state
Auditor General Sarath Chandrasiri Mayadunne
told the Nation - Economist in an exclusive interview that the
proposed constitutional amendment has already been approved in
principal by the Cabinet of Ministers and draft documents have
been submitted to the President's office.
He also said that the proposed legislation has
also received the nod of all political parties represented in
the parliament and thus is likely to receive the two third
majority required for a constitutional amendment.
Mayadunne said that the proposed amendment will
replace the section 153 of the constitution which deals with the
Auditor General and introduce a new section creating a
Constitutional Audit Council, a National Audit Service
Commission and a National Audit Office which together will
strengthen the office of the Auditor General.
The amendment will also empower the Auditor
General with far reaching powers enabling him to make statements
to the media disclosing the findings he has made ensuring
transparency, he said.
The new amendment will require that Auditor
General be appointed by warrant under the hand of the President
and be sworn into that office by the President. The AG will
retire on attaining the age of sixty five years or when he
completes ten years in office whichever comes earlier.
The Auditor General, under the proposed
Amendment, will not be removed from office except by an order of
the President made after an address of Parliament supported by a
majority of the total number of members (including those not
present) and presented to the President for such removal on the
grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
A resolution for presentation of such an address
will not be entertained by the speaker or placed on the order
paper of the parliament unless notice of such resolution has
been signed at least by one third of the Members of Parliament.
The Auditor General will also be functioning only after being
sworn into that office by the President.
The proposed new Parliamentary Committee called
the Constitutional Audit Council and the National Audit
Commission will make accountability a mandatory requisite with
sweeping changes to the existing legislation.
The Constitutional Audit Council will comprise
the Speaker of Parliament, who will be the Chairman of the
Council, the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition,
Chairman and three other members of the Committee on Public
Enterprises (COPE) and Chairman and three other members of the
Committee on Public Accounts.
The National Audit Service Commission will be
chaired by the Auditor General will include a high ranking
officer of the National Audit Service, an ex-member of the
Public Service Commission and two other persons who had
distinguished themselves in any profession or in the field of
accountancy, auditing, law, economics or public administration.
They will report to the Audit Council periodically about the
discharge of their duties and functions.
Auditor General will also be empowered to impose
fines in respect of transactions made contrary to the law and to
surcharge any person the amount of any deficiency or loss
incurred due to fraud, corruption negligence or misconduct or
any other amount which ought to have been, but not been brought
into account by that person.
There will also be stringent provisions to
punish those attempting to influence the Commission or tamper
with the working of the Commission. Any person, who otherwise
than in the course of his duty, directly or indirectly
influences the decision of the Commission, or interferes with
the exercise or performances of audit powers, will be liable to
a fine of
Rs.100, 000 or a seven year imprisonment or
The functions of the proposed Audit Council will
be to review and present to Parliament the estimates prepared
for the National Audit office by the National Audit Services
Commission for inclusion in the National Budget.
The council also will act as the Appellant
Authority with regard to the surcharges made by the Auditor
General under any law and consider any reports and
recommendations submitted by the commission and report to
parliament whenever it considers necessary to safeguard the
independence of the Auditor General, the Commission and the
members of the National Audit Service.
Article 154 of the Constitution will also be
repealed and replaced with Article 154 (1) with the additions to
cover the empowerment of the Auditor General's Department to
audit all Government Ministries, offices, institutions and
commissions receiving appropriations of provisions made by
Parliament, Provincial Councils, local authorities, any
institution established by written law with public resources
provided wholly, partly, indirectly or indirectly and where the
Government is holding 50% of the share capital and above.
The Auditor General will also have the
discretion to audit any person or institution to the extent that
those persons or bodies have received or enjoyed public finance
as provided in Article 148 of the Constitution and have access
to all books, records, returns, stores and property.
The Auditor General will also be empowered with
the discretion of not disclosing any information that is
detrimental to the national security and defence of the country
or which are detrimental to country's international relations.