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Surcharge Certificate is not the devil – AG


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  • Insists officials working within the law have nothing to fear 
  • Provision needed to re-establish good governance practices 

Attempting to dispel any scepticism and fears against Surcharge Certificates blocking the Audit bill being passed in Parliament, Auditor General (AG) Gamini Wijesinghe said officials who work within regulations will have nothing to fear. 

The new bill gives the AG the power to issue Surcharge Certificates to recover losses to the Government in the event of a malpractice by any government employee. However, this has caused concerns among many high ranking officials causing over a two-year delay in passing the legislation. 

 “There was strong opposition to the surcharge clause. They wanted to remove it completely. We have actually left out much of the important clauses from the current draft bill as we need to get this passed,” he said. 

“The legislation very clearly states that a surcharge can be issued only if three conditions are completed. These are carrying out a transaction contrary to any written law, causing a deficit or loss to the auditee institution by fraud, negligence, misappropriation as a result of the said transaction, and availability of adequate reasonable grounds with the AG to confirm the above matters. 

So there is no reason to fear,” he said.  

The new clause seeks to rectify the shortcomings that were observed in the previous legislations, Wijesinghe stressed. According to him, although provisions to issue surcharge certificates to a number of institutions already exist in the law, it has been deemed ineffective due to the appeals process followed. 

“The appeal process is handled by the Chief Accounting Officer, the Secretary to the Ministry or the Head of Department of the institution, and often they dismiss our determination in the appeal process,” Wijesighe said. 

The proposed clause has been included after taking into consideration all these issues. According to Wijesinghe, in many of the corruption cases, the Chief Accounting officer is involved in the case. 

“So there was a need to give the power of imposing surcharges to an independent authority. Although it is a burden on the AG’s department, it is needed to re-establish good governance practices in the country,” he said. 

 


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