New anti-corruption laws will boost investor confidence – Dr. Harsha De Silva | Sunday Observer
Independent prosecution office proposed

New anti-corruption laws will boost investor confidence – Dr. Harsha De Silva

26 March, 2023

Implementing the best anti-corruption law in South Asia as President Ranil Wickremesinghe had said would boost international investors’ and Governments’ confidence in Sri Lanka, Opposition MP and economist Dr. Harsha De Silva told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

He said this in response to our question, “Does it serve well for the country to incorporate what would be the best anti-corruption Act in South Asia to go side by side with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) program in Sri Lanka?”

During a discussion last week with media heads about the IMF program at the Presidential Secretariat, President Wickremesinghe said the Cabinet had approved the Anti-Corruption Bill concerned. He said he would discuss it with the Opposition MPs in due course.

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe too has initiated discussions with the Opposition in this regard. The President said he had no intention whatsoever to protect corrupt elements in any sphere.

According to Dr. Silva, the new legislation should result in the elimination of widespread corruption in the country.

The new law must also ensure the elimination of political interference in prosecuting those responsible for acts of corruption, he said.

“We are proposing that an Independent Prosecution Office be set up for bribery and corruption cases,” he said, “It is not going to be possible to get every MPs agreement on the Anti-Corruption Bill because the Government has still not discussed it with the Opposition. For a win-win situation, both sides must see its benefits.”

Dr. De Silva said that a Parliamentary Agreement on the IMF program, as outlined by the President, would strengthen confidence in the process among outside investors and the Ratings agencies.

He said they were ready to help the Government wholeheartedly to rescue the country from the crisis.

“I agree with Sri Lanka’s IMF program, but further discussions are necessary to resolve any contentious issues, “ he said.

“We need to come out of this IMF agreement victorious. It cannot be another failed attempt.”

“Unity is needed in this matter regardless of party allegiances, as the President had said, because this is only the start of a long road,” he said. “The next biggest hurdle is the debt-restructuring process, and to do that, massive economic reforms are necessary,” he added. De Silva called for a plan to turn the economy around and create jobs.

Sri Lanka is set to receive US$ 7 billion in concessionary funding under the aegis of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) following the IMF agreement, according to Finance Ministry sources.

State Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and the World Bank’s Country Manager for Sri Lanka, Chiyo Kanda, had reportedly discussed these loans.

With the IMF releasing its first tranche of US$ 330 million to the country last week, the sources said that Sri Lanka is already regaining the trust and confidence of international funding sources and banks.