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Historic public asset declarations by Sri Lankan politicians set a precedent others should follow

Today a group of five Sri Lankan members of parliament from across party lines* came together to publish their declarations of assets and liabilities in the public domain. Their action is a welcome step towards changing the political culture of the country, said global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International.

Under Sri Lanka’s current legislation, the public can pay to access MP's asset declarations, but face prosecution if they share them with a third party. The organisation’s national chapter, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), has campaigned for several years to make MP’s asset declarations freely available to the public. The five asset declarations can be accessed on the chapter’s website.

Asoka Obeyesekere, Executive Director of TISL, said, “We commend the bold step taken by the five members of parliament to submit their asset declarations to the people. We also hope that this step will encourage other public representatives to recognise the unquestionable public interest that is served by disclosing this information. This will help open Parliament to the people and promote a culture of transparency and accountability, further bridging the gap between the people and their representatives.”

Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said, “A well-functioning right to information system is critical for exposing and deterring abuses of power, and for supporting the fight against corruption. Putting information in the hands of the people is key to enhancing good governance. Our hope is that today’s publication will set a precedent that others will follow, and a standard for legislative reform in Sri Lanka.”

*Hon. Tharaka Balasuriya, Hon. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Hon. M.A. Sumanthiran, Hon. Vidura Wickramanayake and State Minister Hon. Eran Wickramaratne.

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