Monday, March 11, 2013

Transparency Intl. ranks Sri Lanka high on defence corruption

Transparency Intl. ranks Sri Lanka high on defence corruption

Transparency Intern-ational yesterday put Sri Lanka among countries that scored low on promoting accountability in multi-million dollar defence transactions, releasing a first-time study on global defence corruption that evaluates 82 countries.

Sri Lanka is placed in Band E, among motley of nations including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Tunisia.

Though Sri Lanka scored low so did 70 per cent of the countries that were surveyed showing the seriousness of corruption in the defence sector.

Despite emerging from a three decade war in 2009, the study pointed out that Sri Lanka’s weapons procurement and payment policies remain opaque with few measures of transparency. It also pointed out that the country’s Executive power almost exclusively controlled the defence sector, including authorising payments that are not vetted by Parliament or other departments.

“In the field of personnel corruption risk, whistle-blowing is considered potentially treacherous. The President wields control over recruitment of personnel at the most senior levels, and there is a high risk of favouritism and politicisation in recruitment processes at other senior levels,” the report said.

Transparency International also emphasised that the problem of facilitation payments is reported to be widespread.

“In terms of competition in defence procurement, the principle of open competition is assessed to be likely to be undermined in practice, while tender boards or anti-collusion efforts are lacking in effectiveness. There is no transparency at all regarding control of agents or sub-contractors, or financing packages.”

In the field of finance corruption risk, the study says there is no transparency on asset disposals or on information classification, the latter having strong risk of being overly centralised following a history of Emergency Regulations. It also points out that there is no detail of money spent on secret items while the Financial Regulations of the Government enable ‘secret payments’. Meanwhile, the defence sector’s development of commercial business in the post-war has been extensive and faces negligible – if any – scrutiny.

The publication ranks 82 countries on their accountability. Together, they account for 94 per cent (US$ 1.6 trillion) of the global military expenditure in 2011.

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