Statement by Justice W.L.R.Silva, Commissioner, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption - Leader of Sri Lanka Delegation (2nd Intervention September 5th 2018 UNCAC Vienna)

intervention 2 1

intervention 2 2Mr. Chair,

Thank you for the opportunity given to Sri Lanka for this intervention
Mr. chair I take this opportunity to express our solidarity towards the fulfillment of the obligations spelled out in the UNCAC.
In Sri Lanka the public service is govern by a Code of conduct known as “Establishment code”. Chapter 29 & 47 of the code provides some provisions which deals with conflict of interest.
Chapter 47 of the Establishment Code spell out the General Conduct and Discipline of the public officers. According to that An officer shall not do anything which will bring his private interests into conflict with the public duty or which compromises his office. He should so conduct himself at all times as to avoid giving rise to any appearance of such conflict or of being so compromised. He should in particular observe carefully the provisions of Chapter XXIX of the Establishments Code.
Chapter 29 states that, Where an officer, such as a Head of Department or Government Agent is the sanctioning or deciding authority under this Section, he should refer any application in which he is personally interested, to the Secretary to the Ministry concerned.
According to Section 3 of Chapter VI all the Correspondence on a matter referred to in the above mentioned Chapters or copies of such correspondence should ordinarily be filed in the Personal Record File, or, where a Personal Record File is not maintained, in the Personal File of the officer. Copies of all such correspondence should also be sent, in respect of an officer of staff grade in a Combined Service and in respect of an officer not of the staff grade in a Combined Service, to the Director, Combined Services and in respect of others, to the Secretary.
Under the 2nd review cycle of the UNCAC a recommendation was made to Sri Lanka to strengthen measures to prevent and detect conflicts of interest by adopting clear rules on what constitutes conflict of interest and penalties for non-compliance, creating a monitoring mechanism and providing training to public officials (arts. 7(4), 8(5)).
Considering these recommendations we realize that there is a lacuna in the conflict of interest law and we have invited an international expert for consultation to draft new laws. Further we have conducted two discussions with experts from two other countries together with the stakeholders of Sri Lanka to identify the required areas of omission and to understand about the relevant laws and function mechanism of conflict of interest laws.
From the experience gathered in those discussions we have initiated a process of drafting relevant laws. For this process an executive committee and a working committee consisting of several relevant stake holders are engaged in to oversee the process.
Mr. Chair, in respect of Declaration of Assets and Liabilities the Establishment code and the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law No. 1 of 1975 contain guide lines.
According to the Establishment code, Upon first appointment, every officer should furnish to the Head of his Department, on Form General 261 (revised) for inclusion in his Personal Record File or Personal File, particulars of all assets owned and liabilities incurred by him or his spouse in her own right or transferred or assigned to her in consideration of her marriage.
If the officer is unmarried at the time of his first appointment, he should immediately after marriage, furnish the particular required by the preceding sub-section.
Furthermore, Every officer should, whenever he or his spouse acquires subsequently any new interest or asset (of the description in sub-section 2:1), furnish in writing to the Head of his Department, for inclusion in his Personal Record File or Personal File, full particulars of the asset or interest so acquired. Any failure to do so promptly will be regarded as a breach of discipline.
In addition to that Acquisition of land or share in land by purchase, lease, gift, inheritance, dowry or device does not require the prior approval of the Government Agent of the District, but it must be reported within three months through the Head of the Department to the Government Agent of the District in which the land is situated who will, if the acquisition appears improper, or if he otherwise considers it undesirable, refer the matter to the Secretary to the Ministry in which the officer is serving, for such action as may be necessary.
A non Sri-Lankan officer should not directly or indirectly acquire any asset or interest of the description as above. Particulars of every investment made, or share or interest acquired, of the description in sub-section 2:1 by or on behalf of an officer or his or her spouse must be reported to the Secretary to the Ministry through the Head of the Department. If an officer has reason to anticipate that any real or apparent conflict between his public duty and private interest may be caused by the fact that he owns or holds or proposes to acquire any shares, assets or interests of the description in sub-section 2:1, he should report the facts of the case to the Secretary through the Head of the Department and stay all action in that case until the order of the Secretary is received. On the receipt of such an order he should comply with it forthwith. If the Secretary has any doubt as to the order he should make in any matter referred to him under this section, he should consult the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration.
Chapter 30 of the establishment code states,
The Government has a total claim to the time, knowledge, talents and skills of its officers and their salary is fixed on that assumption, unless specifically provided for otherwise. No officer may take part in the affairs of any Commercial or Business undertaking or of any firm carrying on any description of professional work. An officer may not undertake any service for a Local Government Body, Public Corporation or other public body, or for any private party, without previously obtaining the sanction of the Secretary. An officer will be permitted to undertake such work only if he is Possessed of special knowledge or skill which is not elsewhere available; or employed in Government work which can, with advantage, be amalgamated with the work of a local body; or Temporarily required to fill a vacancy in the staff of a local body, which demands a degree of ability not adequately possessed by the other members of its staff. The permission of the Secretary is required before an officer may undertake for a fee any work outside his normal official duties. Permission will not be given unless it is shown that no other means of getting the work done are reasonably available. An officer should not receive any grant, reward, fee, bonus or gift from any Association or Fund either receiving assistance from public funds or which has ex-officio on its Committee or Board of Management, without the prior approval of the Secretary. No officer on leave of absence may accept any paid employment without previously obtaining the approval of the Secretary. No officer may undertake any private agency in any matter connected with the exercise of his public duties.

Further the 2nd review cycle of the UNCAC recommended to Reform and strengthen the asset declarations system in line with the amendments proposed by the CIABOC, including the sanctions with regards to the possibility of introducing effective monitoring and verification; adoption of electronic filing systems; permitting competent authorities to share information with foreign counterparts; effective application of deterrent penalties for non-compliance, deterrent punishment for the to Heads of offices who do not abide by the DALA election relevant officials; and to consider expanding the scope of declarations to include potential conflicts of interest gifts rules, secondary employment and outside activities of public officials with a view to providing clear duties and rules for compliance (art. 8(5)).

Mr. chair, In accordance with the above recommendation with regard to the Declaration of Assets, Experts from World Bank, UNODC, and two other countries who were invited to come to Colombo engaged in in-depth discussions with Sri Lankan stakeholders to find out the gaps in our Declaration of Assets and Liabilities law.

The second round of working sessions on the amendments to the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law organized by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) was held from 18-20 June, 2018 at the CIABOC premises. Consultants from the Stolen Assets Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank were the principal resource persons, who provided valuable feedback on the required amendments to the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law. Official representatives of government as well as civil society organizations attended the working session and provided indispensable insight into making the discussions a success.
The expected outcome of the working session was to prepare a policy document laying out the strategy and guidelines for drafting of substantive provisions/amendments of the law necessary to implement an effective asset declaration system.
Following thematic areas were discussed with regard to the amendments required. Firstly, WHO should declare assets and liabilities? At present the establishment code gives out a list of persons who should submits the assets declarations. In addition to that several suggestions were made during the discussions to expand that list by adding elected provincial Council members, executives of the trade unions registered under the trade unions act, proprietors, members and editorial staff of newspapers and electronic media etc.

To the question WHAT assets and liabilities should be declared suggestions were made to add all the real state properties with current market value, commercial, personal and agricultural vehicles in the category of vehicles Machineries, Biological assets and elements patents and Intellectual properties and all group of assets the list in the Establishment code do not cover Further incorporating beneficial interests and to the incorporation of assets of the children were also deliberated in length.
Thirdly the question WHEN should declarations be made, was discussed and final conclusion was to submit the declarations at the entry point of employment, annually and within two weeks of a significant change of the assets at the end of service and after two years of retirement from the service.
With regards to the Submission Process, the unanimous decision of the deliberators was to introduce an electronic system of submission of the declaration of assets and liabilities which could be accessed by all. The content of the E-declaration form, Verification Process, Public Access, Sanction, Technological infrastructure, whole mechanism to put the new system in place and last but not least the role to be played by CIABOC in this regard as the focal institution were matters deliberated at length with optimal conclusions.

The discussions and working sessions resulted in several new amendments to the law which were then forwarded to the legal draftsman for consideration. The drafted amendments will be placed before the Cabinet to consider and to make suggestions.

With a view further strengthening the above mentioned laws, there are plans Under the draft National Action Plan to introduce, conflict of interest rules, gift rules, gift registry and laws for prevention and to impose sanctions process for non-compliance.

In addition to that , CIABOC is in the process of organizing programmes with a view to increasing awareness among public officials with regards to the proposed changes.

We in Sri Lanka always welcome the support and the guidance of the international community in achieving the goals of transparency and good governance more over we are grateful and thankful to you for the support so far extended.
Mr., in conclusion let me, thank the entire membership for the opportunity given to the Sri Lankan delegation to express its views.

I thank you, Mr. Chair

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