Heavy fine for errant public officials

  • Non declaration of assets: fine to be increased to Rs 100,000

Public officials who fail to declare their assets will in future incur a fine of Rs 100,000 according to the recent Cabinet paper approved this week.

Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorala this week sought Cabinet approval to increase the fine imposed on those who did not declare their assets from Rs 1,000 to Rs 100,000.

“A person involved in public life needs to adhere to the tenets of honesty, integrity and transparency”, she stated in her Cabinet paper for the increase in fine and explained that given the higher stakes today, a mere fine of Rs 1,000 was insufficient to motivate politicians or public officials to declare their assets.

The Declaration of Assets Act No 1 of 1975 requires that a public official declare his or her; “assets and liabilities, the assets and liabilities of his or her spouse, the assets and liabilities of each child in and outside Sri Lanka and to provide for investigations to be conducted upon complaints made against a person to whom the law applies”.

“Those who fail without a reasonable cause, to make any declaration of assets and liabilities which he or she is required to make, who makes any false statement in any such declaration, who fails without reasonable cause to give such additional information as the Bribery Commissioner may require under the law; or who otherwise contravenes any provision of the law, will be guilty of an offense”, states the Act further. Section 9 (1) of the Act which deals with fines, will thus be amended to state Rs 100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

Cabinet granted approval for the Legal Draftsman to draft legislation to make the necessary amendments.

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