Britain says Sri Lanka corruption perception high

Britain says Sri Lanka corruption perception high  

The level of corruption perception in Sri Lanka is high, states the United Kingdom, warning “all UK companies preparing to do business in Sri Lanka to consider their strategy for dealing with bribery and corruption.”

In the official Trade and Investment website on Sri Lanka, the advisory dated last week says that whilst Sri Lanka ranks mid-way on corruption according to the Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI), “Allegations plague many government deals, the police, the inland revenue, customs – indeed almost every public body that businesses rely on to function fairly.”

Speaking to The Nation, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that Sri Lanka has seen over US$ 590 million in foreign direct investment over the past six months, regardless of the campaigns implemented by various parties to discredit the state.

“There are various parties who attempt to implement strategies to discourage people from coming to Sri Lanka, and we believe that the statement on the website is not the view of the British government, but an infiltration by those parties into these sectors,” Abeywardena said.

He said that when large investments come into the country, they either use the Board of Investment (BOI) or direct government-to-government linkages as channels. “We can’t ensure private entities dealing with other Sri Lankan private entities use ethical methods to find local private partners, that’s not something that can be done anywhere in the world,” Abeywardena added.

The UK website went on to state that “the public sector is characterised by political appointments and overstaffing. Under-qualified senior management is also common in State Owned Enterprises,” and added “a Public Service Commission does exist to oversee the public sector but its powers are still limited and its independence questionable, although senior Government figures are now recognising that this needs to change.”

“Meanwhile, prosecutions are rare with no senior figures having been taken to court whilst in power. This demonstrates the political protection that officials enjoy. Public officials are not required to declare their assets and ‘conflict of interest’ guidance is sketchy and unenforceable,” the website said.

From 180 countries worldwide Sri Lanka was ranked 91 in 2010, placing it approximately mid table. In the South Asia region Sri Lanka ranks worse than India at 84 but better than Bangladesh at 134.

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