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JVP backs AG on Finance Ministry Annual Report


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 21 June 2017 00:08


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  • Says report should be re-tabled with full debt details 
  • Raises red flag over Finance Ministry failing to disclose crucial documents  
  • Kiriella faults AG for not coming to P’ment when deprived of papers 
  • Speaker refers report to Public Finance Committee 

Parliament was deadlocked yesterday over the Finance Ministry’s 2016 Annual Report with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) insisting it was incomplete as the Auditor General (AG) had not been given the necessary documents to make the independent calculations presented in the report.   

Opposition lawmaker Anura Kumara Dissanayake rejected the 2016 Annual Report, claiming the tabled document was incomplete as it was without the audit opinion of the Auditor General, the Parliamentarian told the House.

Reading out the Auditor General’s comment, which was annexed to the Annual Report, Dissanayake insisted: “As this is an incomplete report Parliament should reject it and send it back to the Ministry to include the Auditor General’s opinion.  In the absence of proper information he has refrained from making an audit statement.

“I draw your attention to the annual report tabled today. It has no valid opinion from the Auditor General. He has mentioned that based on the facts found in a paragraph he is unable to provide a valid opinion or to find a base to provide such opinion. So he has refrained from providing his opinion.”

Compared to the previous Finance Ministry Annual Reports qualified opinion in the 2016 Annual Report appears more exhaustive while the 2015 report had 12 broader items or areas of concern. The previous two years had only five items of concern. 

“We all know that the Auditor General’s opinion validates any annual report. But this report tabled today has no such opinion. So Parliament should only accept a complete report, especially from the Finance Ministry that is highly responsible for the management of public funds. This is an incomplete report. The Auditor General has also mentioned that he will send in his opinion separately to the Parliament in accordance with Article 154 (6) of the Constitution. So it could be included in the report and resubmitted. We should consider this as a report tabled but incomplete.” 

In response, Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella criticised the Auditor General, pointing out he should have informed Parliament of the Finance Ministry’s lapses in providing information.

“If any Ministry did not furnish the required information, the AG should have informed Parliament about it. The main fault lies with the Auditor General. The report became incomplete because of him,” he added.

However, MP Dissanayake, rejecting Minister Kiriella’s response, said it was wrong to accuse the Auditor General and the Government should not expect the Auditor General to give his nod to whatever document sent to him without scrutiny.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya referred the report to the Public Finance Committee to make a decision, adding that he does not wish to comment as to “who is right and who is wrong.” 

Sri Lanka’s fiscal situation has been thrown into turmoil by the Auditor General claiming national debt has been understated in 2016 as 79.3% of GDP by undercounting some of the loans, but actual liabilities are 83.3% of GDP in the Finance Ministry Annual Report. 

The Auditor General’s claims that Treasury bonds and off-balance sheet loans had not been clearly accounted for have thrown a cloud over Government debt management. Despite appeals from the private sector for clarity, the Government has not responded to the Auditor General’s statement nor clarified its numbers through other officials.  AH 

 


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