Impact of 20A on AG and ASC: SLASA awaiting discussions with President, PM
By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
The Sri Lanka Audit Service Association (SLASA) has sought meetings with the President and the Prime Minister to discuss subject related aspects in the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution and is presently awaiting a response in this regard.
The Association is composed of executive grade level officers attached to the Auditor General’s (AG) Department who are professionals qualified to point out technical issues pertaining to the subject matter in the said Amendment.
Previously, the Association on 9 September in a letter addressed to representatives of religions, the President, the Prime Minister (PM), Ministers, Parliamentarians, civil society activists, trade union leaders and heads of media institutions noted that the 20th Amendment would limit the powers afforded to the Parliament with regard to the control of public finance and limit the scope of the AG.
The 20th Amendment has proposed the removal of the Audit Service Commission (ASC) and in this regard, the Association noted that the 20th Amendment however does not provide for an appropriate institutional framework and body within the Parliament to fulfil the duties of the ASC. The Association has also pointed out that they oppose the removal under the 20th Amendment of the power vested with the AG to audit State entities.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, Secretary of the Association, R.M.P.A. Janaka said they wanted Articles 153 (including 153A to 153 H) and 154 of the Constitution which dealt with the AG, the ASC (its Constitution, meetings, powers and functions, influencing or attempting to influence a decision of the ASC or any officer of the State Audit Service being considered an offence, immunity from legal proceedings, costs and expenses, appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and being answerable to the Parliament) and the duties and functions of the AG, which were introduced by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution to remain as is and for the amendments and deletions proposed to the said Articles under the 20th Amendment to be removed.
He also noted that in addition to requesting meetings for discussions in writing from the President and the PM, they had also made submissions to the committee appointed by the Premier and chaired by Minister Professor G.L. Peiris to study and review the 20th Amendment. “We met committee member, Minister Wimal Weerawansa while committee member Minister Udaya Gammanpila had met the AG. We have informed the Buddhist clergy in this regard and they have also given our message to the Government parties including to Gammanpila. We want to have these meetings cum discussions with the President and the PM prior to the commencement of the Parliamentary Committee Stage debate on the matter,” he said.