Considering the lethargic and ineffective attitude of the CIABOC, President Sirisena was urged today to replace the incumbent Commissioners and the Director General of the government’s anti-corruption body, as the evidence of state-sponsored corruption has reached unimaginable proportions.
Amongst the corruption cases piled up before the CIABOC, the MP tax-free car permit scam, occupies a prominent place especially due to the involvement of those holding public office in the Executive and the Legislature. However in spite of availability of overwhelming evidence of this government revenue fraud running into over 7 billion rupees, the CIABOC has absolutely failed to take any meaningful step to initiate a credible investigation.
This is despite the Sirisena-Ranil government itself condemning the previous Rajapaksa regime in its Nov 2015 fiscal policy statement (budget speech) for causing a loss of Rs 40 billion annually on the abuse of tax-free car permits. Notwithstanding this official acceptance of state-sponsored corruption, the Sirisena-Ranil government within two months backtracked on its own stand and began issuing tax-free car permits by itself to MPs with no legal sanction whatsoever.
Almost one year prior to the revelation of this financial crime by the Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake in the Parliament, this fraud was reported to the CIABOC on 11th Dec 2014. Yet no investigation was initiated on the complaint by the CIABOC, claiming that the said revenue loss had been caused due to the implementation of the government policy.
After the Ranil-Sirisena Yahapalana regime took over on 08th Jan 2015 another complaint on this government-sponsored revenue fraud was made to the CIABOC on 26th Aug 2016 with overwhelming evidence. This was supported with a schedule of vehicles imported on MP tax-free permits and registered in the names of private individuals and companies not entitled to use this tax-free privilege which is meant for MPs to discharge their office efficiently and effectively for the economic development of the country. However, the CIABOC has miserably failed to initiate any tangible action to arrest this abuse or to recover the billions of tax-revenue defrauded by dishonest MPs.
On the top of it, the government MPs and Ministers (eg: State Minister of Finance, Luckshman Yapa Abeywardena and the General Secretary to the United National Party (UNP) and Minister of Public Enterprise Development, Kabeer Hashim) began defending this high profile revenue fraud, stressing that it is the right of Members of Parliament to ‘raise funds’ through the sale of their duty free vehicle permits. Minister Kabeer Hashim on 01st Nov 2016, as usually, went to the habit of heavily criticizing Rajapaksa regime for such frauds but not the Sirisena government in which he is holding a office of a Cabinet Minister.
This pathetic and unacceptable state of government affairs has compelled to urge President Sirisena to remove all the Commissioners and the Director General of the CIABOC and replace them with people who would withstand any political pressure in the unavoidable discharge of their duty for public good. President was also warned not to appoint retired judges to the Commission, which would naturally send a wrong signal to the serving judges to fall in line with the political leadership in power.
Further the President was also reminded of the recent significant decision made by the Supreme Court, UK [SC 52 (2010)] in affirming the conviction of 3 accused MPs for 18 months in jail, for abusing public funds for unjust enrichment.