Auditor General (AG) Gamini Wijesinghe has warned that he will quit if the government continues to interfere in his functions.
According to Wijesinghe, if the Auditor General is allowed to work independently, he can contribute immensely to enhance good governance in the country.
He said his foremost obligation was to check if the good governance promises are being delivered to the people by the government. “Time is needed to reveal all the inside happenings of the present government. Until then I will be strict. If I cannot take decisions unwaveringly I will give up my position and retire,” the Auditor General said in an interview with the Ceylon Today.
He noted that certain senior ministers in the government such as Minister Lakshman Kiriella had criticized him. “The main reason for criticism is my exposure of unlawful expenses by the government,” he said.
At the moment, all trade unions of the Auditor General’s Department have risen up in resistance against moves to clip the powers vested in the Auditor General to impose surcharges on public officials in the Draft Audit Act. The government has hence delayed bringing in the Audit Act as promised.
Wijesinghe added that the situation has landed the AG’s Department in hot water. He added that the delay in bringing in the new Audit Act was making the motives of the government questionable.
The power to appoint or transfer auditors was earlier vested in the Public Service Commission (PSC) and subsequently in the Audit Commission under the 19th Amendment. The National Audit Commission functions within the provisions of the Audit Act. Therefore, the delay in passing the Audit Act has paralyzed the audit service, claimed Wijesinghe.
“Government must enact this piece of legislation quickly lest we fall into deeper problems. Politicians rule the country. They must be able to lay the foundations of good governance. The Auditor General is one of the major pillars in that foundation. If you say you do not want the Audit Act, that means you do not want good governance. The Auditor General’s Department has been weakened. Does the government say that the Auditor General’s Department must not work? Is that the message delivered by not activating this Act?” he questioned.