Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), issuing a statement yesterday (21), expressed its concern over the decision taken by the Cabinet of Ministers to allow President Maithripala Sirisena to continue to reside in his official residence located in Colombo.
The TISL believes that the timing of the decision, when the President is still in office and is the Head of the Cabinet, raises serious questions regarding conflicts of interest. The TISL added that it is underscored by the 2007 decision of the Supreme Court regarding the premature exercise of Executive powers under the Presidents Entitlements Act of 1986.
The TISL went on to mention that the Supreme Court, in 2007, had delivered the verdict in a fundamental rights petition against former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, in favour of the petitioners, quashing the Cabinet decisions on grants and entitlements to the President, while the President was still in office.
“The TISL is firmly of the stance that decisions pertaining to such entitlements should only be taken at such a time when the sitting President ceases to hold office,” the TISL noted, further questioning the current political context in which the said decision was made, which, according to the TISL, raises red flags on electoral integrity and potential corruption under the Bribery Act.
TISL Executive Director, Asoka Obeysekara said, “A conservative estimate could place the benefit afforded to President Sirisena, as a result of retaining the official residence, at over Rs 360 million over a 20-year period.”
Moreover, the TISL urged the Cabinet to immediately revoke any Cabinet decisions on the entitlements of President Sirisena.
(Source: Ceylon Today)