Milestone in TISL’s initiative : Release of assets declarations: A historic gesture | Sunday Observer

Milestone in TISL’s initiative : Release of assets declarations: A historic gesture

State Minister Eran Wickremaratne with MPs Tharaka Balasuriya, M.A. Sumanthiran, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Vidura Wickramanayake (Pic: Malan Karunaratne)
State Minister Eran Wickremaratne with MPs Tharaka Balasuriya, M.A. Sumanthiran, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Vidura Wickramanayake (Pic: Malan Karunaratne)

In a historic gesture last week, five parliamentarians came forth to release their asset declarations to the public domain, in keeping with an initiative by Transparency International Sri Lanka.

The following day MP Ranjan Ramanayake became the sixth to join the group of five who said they endorsed the initiative to set a precedent to end corruption in the public sector.

The five MPs representing the UPFA, UNP and TNA said,” We have different opinions on different matters which represent ideologies of our political parties but in this area we have a common view,” after making their declarations of assets and liabilities public.

The gesture marked a milestone in the TISL’s campaign to make information on MPs assets and liabilities public knowledge, to ensure greater openness and accountability.

State Minister Eran Wickremaratne and MPs Tharaka Balasuriya, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, M.A.Sumanthiran and Vidura Wickramanayake who took part in the historic move said they hope more members in the Parliament will join their group. “There is public responsibility to take this initiative forward. If this effort ends here, it will be futile,” they said.

MP Tharaka Basnayake said this initiative will help the general public to make a learned guess on the assets and liabilities of the legislators. “We must go beyond the Parliament and make it a practice for all public servants and state institutions to make their asset declarations public,” he suggested.

MP Vasudeva Ananayakkara said, unfortunately, Sri Lanka does not have the best corruption indices. “All the 225 MPs have allegations of corruption against them, there must be a system to look into the details of asset declarations and take action if there is inconsistency,” he pointed out.

State Minister Eran wickremaratne said this gesture was a historic first which should nurtured to flourish. “We must also make it an offence for Cabinet Ministers to engage in private business. It affects their independence. ”

He said they entered Parliament to make a change and thus he would oppose any move to expand the Cabinet, even if it is done in the guise of a National Government.

Speaking at the historic occasion TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeysekera said, “ We commend the bold step taken by the five members of parliament.”

The details of the assets and liabilities of MPs and the state Minister who have already shared these info will be accessible on the TISL website www.tisrilanka.org/mpassets

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The Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law of 1975, compel periodic declaration of assets and liabilities for certain public servants including all parliamentarians. The MPs are required to submit such details to the Parliamentary Secretary General while Cabinet Ministers must do so to the President.

Yet it remains an offence to publish such details in the public domain. Breaching this law will make one liable for a fine of Rs.2000 and two years RI. The five MPs who joined in the historic feat said they will take the initiative to amend this particular section. “We will bring it to Parliament as a private member’s bill.”

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