(UDHAYAM, COLOMBO) – British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris says the UK is helping Sri Lanka to fight against corruption because making progress in the fight against corruption is good for Sri Lanka, for Sri Lankans and for Sri Lankan businesses.
Speaking recently on “Corporate Governance: staying ahead of the risk of corruption” the High Commissioner said getting better in fighting corruption will make it easier for Sri Lankan businesses to prosper and attract investment.
“We committed to giving this support because we believe that making progress in the fight against corruption is good for Sri Lanka, for Sri Lankans, for Sri Lankan businesses. Get it right, at least get it better, and it will be easier for Sri Lankan businesses to prosper, will help companies and country alike to attract investment, and will enhance the country’s international reputation,” Mr. Dauris said.
The High Commissioner said at the invitation of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister, the UK is sharing their experience of tackling financial crime with Sri Lanka.
“I am proud of the work my High Commission has been doing, at the invitation of the Prime Minister, to share our experience of tackling financial crime with practitioners here. We have had colleagues from our Serious Fraud Office working in Colombo with local agencies, sharing expertise and providing training that we hope will help to lead to successful prosecutions.”
Mr. Dauris however, noted that Sri Lanka has made some progress in tackling corruption but it is not good enough to be in the national interest.
The High Commissioner pointed out that in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index prepared by Transparency International, Sri Lanka is ranked 95 out of 175 countries, with a score of 36% while the neighbor India is ranked 79 with a score of 40%.
“The report comments that the year’s results highlight the link between corruption and inequality. In turn, Transparency International assesses, the interplay between corruption and inequality feeds political populism,” he said.
The envoy highlighting the positive effect of good corporate governance on businesses said the corporate governance and being tough on corruption are two clear all round wins, at the national level, the corporate level and the individual level.
The High Commissioner said the fight against corruption is a priority for the British government.
“We can’t and don’t claim to have beaten corruption. But we do take it seriously, we take the fight against it seriously, and we demand that companies with links to the UK take it seriously,” Mr. Dauris said.
He said corruption is one of the main obstacles to sustainable economic, political and social development, for developing, emerging and developed economies alike.
“It increases the cost of doing business – the cost of bribes and time wasted in drawn-out negotiations; the risks of prosecution and reputational damage; the business uncertainty that it creates.”
The envoy recalled that President Maithripala Sirisena representing Sri Lanka at the first Anti-Corruption Summit the UK hosted for heads of state and government in May 2016, said that Sri Lanka would be working towards making the public service corruption-free at all levels, and addressing corruption within the private sector.
“These are laudable goals. The recent passing of the Right to Information Act provides a useful tool to help advance these goals,” he said.