2 June, 2020

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RTI Commission Directs Parliament To Respond On Request Seeking Info On MP’s Assets Declarations 

Sri Lanka’s Sinhala newspapers, including the Lankadeepa, carried this week, a Directive of the RTI Commission to the Parliament on an RTI request filed by a journalist asking as to how many MPs had filed their Declarations of Assets from 2010 to date. 

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya

The RTI request had been rejected by the Parliament through the Office of the Secretary General of Parliament which had asked journalist Chamara Sampath to file a request to the Speaker and had also stated that this information must be obtained under the Assets and Liabilities Law and not the RTI Act.

The journalist had then appealed to the RTI Commission, saying that he cannot appeal to the Office of the Speaker under the RTI Act as Parliament had nominated the Secretary General’s Office as the depositary of requests for RTI. The Colombo Telegraph learns that the Secretary General of Parliament had submitted before the Commission that information relating to MPs Declarations of Assets is not in its control and that it is only in the Speaker’s control. It had been maintained that the Office of the Speaker functions separately from the Office of the Secretary General.  

However the Commission had referred to its previous order where activists had asked for the Assets Declaration of the Prime Minister which had been directed to be given on the basis that the RTI Act would be deprived of all force if a 1970’s law like the Assets and Liabilities Act was given priority and also, that elected officials must maintain highest standards of transparency. That Order has been appealed from by the Secretary to the President to the Court of Appeal and will be heard for argument in 2020. 

In the appeal being currently heard, the Commission had pointed out that statistical data of the kind asked by the journalist could not anyway be obtained under the Assets and Liabilities Act and that the information request relates to a matter of high public interest. It had directed the Secretary General and the Parliament, as the Public Authority, to consult with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and respond to the information request. 

Presently, it is not clear as to whether all the Presidential candidates have submitted their Assets Declarations to the Elections Commission as required by law. Recently Rohan Pallewatta, an independent Presidential candidate emphasized that those contesting for the country’s top job must be asked to make their Declarations public. Independent monitors have observed that this resistance to transparency is common across all political parties and runs counter to their pledges of good governance.  

The refusal of Sri Lankan politicians to make their Assets Declarations public contrasts with the rest of South Asia where these Declarations are regularly published and citizens do not have to go to the RTI Act or to courts of law to get that information.             

   

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Latest comments

  • 12
    0

    Revoke candidacy of all nominees who refuse to declare their assets including overseas accounts, properties and specially the nationality status. Delete their name from the list.

    • 5
      0

      Even now it is not too late for them to give their assets and liabilities, at least a week prior to elections. Thereafter let them give the same information after the election to ascertain the total amount spent by them for the elections. The person who gets elected should give his assets and liabilities at the end of his term too for public to know whether he is in the red or blue.
      Sajith says he is not going to use his allowance on himself, instead it will be used for the welfare of the people. I wonder how he is going to live?.Is it on his father’s savings?
      Other important candidates seem to have enough and more elsewhere?

    • 4
      0

      Declaration by nominees is just the minimum. In Sri Lanka that declaration should extend to family wealth. The ingenuity of our political class must not be underestimated. However, I wish the journalist good luck in getting this information – there is a better chance of getting blood out of a stone!

  • 5
    0

    anonymous: Well said. What you say is a MUST. This must be done at the nomination time. It must be made LAW to attach a “Declaration” of assets and liabilities in Sri Lanka and Abroad and as you said their Nationality Status. It must be a “Legal Affidavit”. If that is not, “Attached” all such Nominations must be “VOIDED”- REJECTED, then and there by the Elections Commission. No TIME must be allowed to file that “Declaration”. Period.

  • 5
    0

    We all know about ill gotten wealth of politicians & their cronies. While some are shrewd enough to launder their black money through shell companies (remember millions of cash dumped in Ravi K’s wife’s company safe?) or investing in the stock exchange, others, the less educated, I am sure, are happy to keep them under the proverbial mattress. The Inland Revenue seem to be off the radar when it comes to palaces built by politicians, unlike for the average citizen when a purchase of a car or a property can expect a IRS query.

    In UK, the assets of politicians & even their expense claims are available for public scrutiny. Everybody has to file their tax returns. MPs are not entitled to a Govt. vehicle, only Ministers are, & the vehicles are leased by the respective Ministries. All election expenditure are capped & have to be disclosed to the election commissioner. Any irregularities in claims & over expenditure will make the election result null & void, & subjected to a by election. As a result, UK has genuine politicians with integrity who consider politics as a honour & a civic duty unlike in SL.

  • 1
    0

    Non-declaration of assets by them will create unnecessary doubts in the minds of public as to why they want to refrain from doing it.. Hence,it is better they are open and make such declarations.It is our opinion!

  • 3
    0

    I have lost hope and regard for those in Parliament plus one. They will always find excuses and ways to get out of what ever situation. You can see what is happening in our courts. Both are disgraceful.

  • 1
    0

    I have lost hope and regard for those in Parliament plus one. They will always find excuses and ways to get out of what ever situation. .

    • 0
      0

      I agree with you totally Chris. But what the ‘Sillyzens’ of ‘Sorry Lanka’ does not understand is that they are the customers and those fraudsters, murderers they send to serve them, guide them are their servants. So, what you people need to do is, ‘TURN THE PYRAMID UPSIDE DOWN’. This was the only opportunity to do so. Alas!, the bloke who genuinely craved to do it was conned and eliminated by the ‘Fraudsters’.
      I truly sympathise the majority citizens who live on their $2 a day wage while the 225+1 spend at least 1 billion a day for their upkeep.
      Only hope for the country is the ‘AUTOTHONUS’ constitution.

  • 2
    0

    Anonymous is perfectly correct. Unfortunately there is one law for the Politician ND ONE FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE LIKE US.

  • 0
    0

    I thought Keselwatta Kid the UNP Candidate was the Big Fry..
    Please Don’t tell me Dr Ranil the Bonito is top on the List…

  • 0
    0

    Not a single President, PM or future both has the Balls to ask any politician he/she to declare their assets.
    The reason being that they depend on these midnight shaggers and their nefarious activities to come to power.
    There is a not a single leader of Sri lanka who can stand up and proclaim that he was , he is and he will be in power due to his honest merits.
    We have many budding candidates who wish to become President but ask them if they will bring in a law for all politicians to declare their assets and the Arseholes will keep their mouths shut.
    Ask them if they will suspend the perks and jerks of all in parliament and the wankers will have no answer because they are off the same pariah lot.
    Sri lanka is a typical banana republic with a Arsehole as President, a Gay as PM, another Gay as Finance Minister, and a bunch of Morons who hold various ministerial portfolios they know nothing about.
    The funniest part of the land is that the voters every five years stand in line and vote all these Shaggers back into power and then moan and cry from every orifice in their bodies about broken promises.
    Its no wonder we are no better off than we were in the past fifty years before the rot started to creep in.
    Sri lankans are idiots and Doomed to failure if not already failed and another South American Banana Narco State in the making.
    A beautiful land invaded by political Maggots who thrive on rotting flesh.
    No amount of white threads tied around various parts of their bodies will save them.
    May God Almighty save the few Righteous, Humble & Honest and may the others rot in Hell for ever.

  • 0
    0

    Can RTI Commission direct Parliament through the Speaker to “Respond On Request Seeking Info On MP’s Assets Declarations”.
    RTI Commission cannot. Courts may point out wrong acts by the Parliament but no more!

  • 0
    0

    More than asset declaration, the Speaker should be asked what action he is taking against those thugs who attacked him in the Parliament?

  • 0
    0

    How can one ask the Speaker? He is a two faced
    hypocrite. He claims he is the biggest saviour
    of democracy in sri lanka. bullshit. He will never
    do anything if there is NO publicity in it.

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