Senior Manager, Advocacy Sankitha Gunaratne
- President’s Office appeal follows TISL’s request for PM’s assets and liabilities declaration to be made public
- Preliminary hearing set for 19 July
- TISL renews call for all 225 MPs to publicly disclose declarations of assets and liabilities
- Only seven MPs have complied so far
By Chandani Kirinde
The Court of Appeal (CA) has fixed 19 July for the preliminary hearing of an appeal against an order of the Right to Information (RTI) Commission to release the assets and liabilities declaration of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, filed by the President Office,an official of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) said yesterday.
TISL Senior Manager (Advocacy) Sankhitha Gunaratne said TISL has been served notice in relation to the case, as the RTI order was made to the President’s Office following an appeal by the organisation.
“The Presidential Secretariat informed TISL in December that it was not willing to issue the assets declaration of the Prime Minister, and was filing an appeal in the CA against the RTI Commission’s order. We were sent notice of it by the CA last week,” she said.
The court action comes amidst renewed calls by TISL to all 225 Members of Parliament (MPs) to publicly disclose their declarations of assets and liabilities, in the interest of strengthening their accountability, and as an example of their commitment to an open democracy.
She said that TISL has campaigned for many years to bring this information into the public domain, believing that greater openness by public representatives increases trust and ensures stronger accountability. “This position was sanctioned by the Right to Information Commission in its order of December 2018, directing the Presidential Secretariat to release the AssetDeclaration of the Prime Minister for 2015/16, pursuant to an RTI application filed by TISL.”
Gunaratne said that in February this year, a group of five MPs from different parties came together to unilaterally publish their asset declarations in the public domain.
The five MPs who came forward to take this historic step towards changing the political culture of the country were TarakaBalasuriya,Vasudeva Nanayakkara, M.A. Sumanthiran,Vidura Wickramanayake, and State MinisterEran Wickramaratne.They were followed by Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake and MP Ali Zahir Mowlana.
The TISL official said that while 30 June 2019 marks the deadline for all MPs to submit their Asset Declarations for 2018/19 to the relevant authorities, the organisation urges all MPS to use the opportunity to also make their asset declarations publicly available.
“In letters addressed to all MPS in June, TISL expressed its willingness to publish the MPs asset declarations on www.tisrilanka.org/MPassets whilst encouraging them to also use their own websites or social media platforms to do the same,” Gunaratne said.
Pic by Shehan Gunasekara