Half of Sri Lanka’s public procurement contracts are tainted by bribery and corruption, President Maithripala Sirisena said on Friday, nearly two years after he came to power promising to tackle government graft. The president, who has ordered investigations into alleged widespread corruption under his predecessor, said he could not name names because those exposed would “go on strike from tomorrow”.
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“I regret to say that organised bribery and corruption is still taking place in government institutions,” he told a public meeting of police and anti-corruption activists in Colombo,” said the President.
“We say call tenders to prevent corruption, but in reality we know that the tender procedures are also corrupt. It happens in over 50 per cent of the time,” he added.
Sirisena said one government institution had threatened to go on strike to protest against the installation of a CCTV system designed to discourage money changing hands illegally.
“Such is the level of resistance and I am told that officers who refuse to cooperate with organised corruption are sidelined and not given any work by their superiors,” he said. Sirisena swept to power in January last year, ousting the country’s strongman former leader Mahinda Rajapakse.
In recent months he has made several outspoken criticisms of the national unity government under Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, including accusing top anti-corruption officials of launching politically motivated prosecutions.
The two men are from rival parties, but made common cause to topple Rajapakse, whose entire family and closest associates face allegations of corruption as well as murder.