The much awaited National Audit Bill finally received Cabinet approval this week, subject to amendments, Cabinet Co-spokesperson Gayantha Karunathilaka said yesterday.
The Bill, a promise under President Maithripala Sirisena’s 100 day programme, was shuttled between offices for amendments since 2015, before it was finally approved this week.
Chief accounting officers and other Government officials objected to a number of clauses that vested wider powers on the Auditor General, including the power of issuing surcharge sheets on those found guilty following audit queries.
When the above Bill was presented last week, the Cabinet appointed a Committee, chaired by Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, to make further recommendations on the Bill.
Cabinet this week approved the Bill, subject to making amendments as per recommendations made by this committee.
Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe has been vocal about the need to approve the Bill in order for his department to function effectively following the 19th Amendment, which established the Audit Commission. The Audit Act was to be passed in Parliament after the amendment to the Constitution to provide subsequent provisions for the Department to set up the Commission, recruit staff and operate. However, as the proposed Bill got held up going through repeated amendments, the Auditor General Department has been unable to carry out its functions effectively.