National Audit Bill amendments recommend surcharge on corrupt public officials

Recent amendments introduced to the National Audit Bill and recommended by Cabinet states that a surcharge be imposed on government officials caught misappropriating government funds.

It also recommended that the authority to impose such a charge be given to the relevant line Ministry Secretary of the officer concerned.

The above recommendations were made by the Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by Special Assignments Minister Dr.Sarath Amunugama, who was to look into various recommendations and amendments suggested to the Audit Bill and come up with a draft for approval.

“If a government officer through his incompetency, misuse, fraud or corruption, has caused loss to the government, powers to be granted to commission to recover that money through a surcharge imposed on the official, and the power to impose such a surcharge be given to the relevant Ministry Secretary of the officer”, was proposed as an amendment to cabinet and approved.

The Cabinet sub committee also approved the amendment to include two officials from the government service and engineering field to the ‘surcharge appeals committee’ which will hear any petitions from government officials thus accused.

The National Audit Commission however has pointed out that to empower the Secretary to impose the surcharge would simply undermine the powers of the Commission and has advised against such a move.

Co-Cabinet Spokesperson, Minister Rajitha Senaratne however explained that this would simply reduce the workload of the Commission and it would help speed investigations along.

“One Commission can’t handle everything. Look what happened to the Public Services Commission?. It has a huge load and it cannot cope. People have to wait for months for a decision,” the Minister said. 

 

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