The lesson to be learnt from the Bond Scam is that the system in the Central Bank was not solid enough to prevent the Scam.
by Neville Ladduwahetty
( August 11, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The corruption associated with the Bond Scam is slowly but steadily unravelling itself. The first culprit has been identified. Only time will tell whether other culprits, such as those who aided and abetted, and others, who gave material support by way of planning and strategizing too would be identified. While the hope is that the process underway would continue uninterrupted, with diligence and commitment of all those associated with the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, there is a parallel process that should be undertaken with equal diligence and commitment – that is to address the weaknesses in the system that enables corrupt people to exploit the system to their advantage.
This we presume is the task primarily for the Central Bank, because the rot started with the involvement of the former Governor of the Central Bank.Therefore, the current system should not be allowed to continue. Instead, it should be revised and upgraded. If such a task is currently underway, one is sure to have heard about it, considering the penchant of the Central Bank for publicity. Despite this tendency, if such a task is underway it certainly should not be a closed door exercise. Instead, a formal position paper should be prepared and tabled in Parliament for debate and formal approval.
Notwithstanding the fallout from the Bond Scam, the need to rob billions is not for the fun of it, although such motivations cannot be ruled out as it was in the film “The Thomas Crown Affair”; but as commonly believed, it was in order to replenish the depleted coffers of the UNP following the elections. Whether or not the reason for the Bond Scam was what is commonly believed, Sri Lanka needs to go beyond and improve the system by plugging the holes within the Central Bank, which involves addressing of current electoral practices of requiring considerable funds to contest elections. Practices that involve not only bussing people from distant places but also compensating them with food and drink, poster campaigns and a variety of other inducements to persuade the voters, are funded by supporters who extract favours from those elected, as their pay back. Such paybacks are the cause of the corruption.
Therefore, the Elections Commission should prepare a formal position paper recommending the reforms to electioneering practices, and table it in Parliament for debate and approval.
The lesson to be learnt from the Bond Scam is that the system in the Central Bank was not solid enough to prevent the Scam. The other lesson is to reform electioneering practices so as not to require funds from big time donors, in order to minimize their influence in the outcome of elections. Therefore, if corruption is to be rooted out, the focus should be on the system. At present the Bond Scam is a scandal, but it should not be forgotten that it was the result of a dysfunctional system.