We are sick of hearing bribery and corruption allegations now being made against the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Cabinet of Ministers.
The UNP politicians, who are now very vociferous about wiping out bribery and corruption, have forgotten the fact that all these vices sprang in this country with the open economy we got under the J.R Jayewardene regime. When he made the present constitution, his desire was this: the Auditor General must be committed not to the Constitution but to the government of the day. We must not take things in politics at its face value. As such, every issue of politics should be studied in combination with some other issues in politics. The most obnoxious provision found in the present constitution is its Article 154(1)(2)(3) which deals with state auditing. This Article has been framed in such way that, after misappropriation of state funds, any corrupt politician can escape liability. Let us just see it.
This is what Article 154(2) says:
“Notwithstanding anything said in Article 154 (1) the Minister concerned can appoint its own Auditor to audit the accounts of his ministry in consultation with the Finance Minister.” It is this constitutional loophole that has been made use of by all corrupt Ministers ever since 1978, up to this date, though the rulers in the present government are silent about this vital point. Who is going to fool whom?
It is like asking for clues about a theft from the thief’s mother. It is this auditing procedure that has facilitated all corrupt ministers of successive governments to rob Public Funds in disregard of all accepted norms in decent parliamentary politics.
Though some changes were made to the section 154 under the recent 19th Amendment, the powers of the Minister to interfere with the Auditing procedure remain unchanged.
Whereas, under the Soulbury Constitution the Auditor was a person independent of parliamentary politics. See Article 71 (2) of the Soulbury Constitution which says that the Auditor General shall report annually to the House of Representatives of the exercise of his functions under this order. In the present context, it can be said that the constitutional amendments brought in, recently to wipe out corruptions have become a futile effort with no result forthcoming. Constitutionally impotent Auditor General Office has become the bane of our national politics.