The Government has gazetted a new anti-corruption bill after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a 2.9 billion US dollar loan which required the crisis-hit nation to address corruption vulnerabilities.
According to the gazette published on Thursday (April 06) on the order of Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, some of the objectives of the proposed Act are to prevent and eradicate bribery and corruption in order to meet the just requirements of the general welfare of a democratic society, enhance transparency in governance, strengthen integrity of governance and increase accountability, enhance public confidence in government and strengthen public participation to eradicate corruption.
The Act also envisions establishing an Independent Commission to exercise and perform the powers and functions under the Act and to carry out the responsibilities imposed. The said commission will be mandated to conduct preliminary inquiries and investigations into, and to prosecute against, bribery, corruption, offences relating to declaration of assets and liabilities and associated offences.
The draft bill, if enacted, will enable the authorities to conduct and coordinate educational activities on the prevention of bribery and corruption, introduce an effective system for the declaration of assets and liabilities in order to prevent illicit enrichment by public officials, promote inter-agency cooperation and international collaboration in preventing bribery and corruption, and give effect to obligations under the United Nations Convention against corruption and any other International Convention relating to the prevention of corruption to which Sri Lanka is a party and recognise international standards and best practices in order to establish a culture of integrity in Sri Lanka.
In the lead up to its board approval of the 2.9 billion dollar loan, the IMF had urged Sri Lanka to reduce corruption vulnerabilities through improving fiscal transparency and public financial management, introducing a stronger anti-corruption legal framework, and conducting in-depth governance diagnostic, supported by IMF technical assistance.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on April 02 that Sri Lanka will enact key points of its agreement with the IMF into law upon parliamentary approval, one of which would be new anti-corruption legislation which he said would likely be enacted in May.