The independence of audit inspections on financial transactions of public institutions is to be shattered with the abolition of the audit service commission in accordance with the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution, state auditors warned.' The Sri Lanka Audit Inspectors’ Association has sent a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stating that the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution has caused great damage to the independence of the Auditor General and the scope of public audit, and also to the mechanism for the exercise of public financial control.
The Association has requested the President to immediately rectify the damage that has been caused by the proposed 20th Amendment to the state audit service.
The letter also points out that the Amendment deprives the public of their sacred right to know about the overall financial control of the country.
It also states that the removal of the Public Service Commission, Functional Commissions under Article 41 (b) of the Constitution, Office of the Secretary to the President, Office of the Secretary to the Prime Minister, Offices of the Cabinet of Ministers, which are allocated funds from the State Budget and assigned to the Auditor General for auditing under the Article 154 (1) of the Constitution and are subject to the financial control of Parliament from the scope is problematic.
The letter also states that the removal of companies registered under the Companies Act and holding 50% or more of the share capital in state, or state corporations and local government from the scope of the audit will lead to the complete exclusion of public finance from parliamentary control.
The letter points out that the exclusion of the audit of state-owned companies with more than 50% stake from the scope of the Auditor General breaks down the mechanism to see if these companies are operating in line with the President’s 'Vision of Prosperity' policy statement.
The association noted that some companies are reportedly already planning to withdraw from the state audit mechanism following the submission of these proposals.
It is said that these amendments have seriously damaged the independence of the Auditor General by making him a public servant.
Copies of the letter, signed by WJC Tissera, General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Audit Service Inspectors’ Association, have been sent to the Prime Minister, the Speaker, all Ministers and Members of Parliament as well as civil society organisations and the media.
Attorney General Dappula de Livera said that the draft of the amendment can be passed in parliament and does not require a referendum, after Justice Minister Ali Sabry announced that it will be voted on by lawmakers in October.