Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is concerned by the recent gazette notification, which has erroneously in law placed the National Lotteries Board under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. TISL called for the error to be expediently remedied by re-gazetting the National Lotteries Board under the Finance Ministry as per the law.
The National Lotteries Board was created by The Finance Act 1963, which was subsequently revised in 1997 and 1998. The law specifically defines the Minister for the purposes of the Act as the ‘Minister to whom the subject of Finance has been assigned’.
The President under his power to determine ministries, appoint ministers and assign subjects and functions to such ministers has done so by creating a Ministry of Finance and Media, appointing Mangala Samaraweera MP as a minister and assigning him with the subject of Finance and Media. This completes the President’s obligations under Article 43 of the Constitution.
Having concluded his obligations and in pursuance of the provisions of the Finance Act, the ‘Minister to whom the subject of Finance is assigned’ – presently the Minister Samaraweera, Minister of Finance and Media would therefore, by law, need to be in charge of the National Lotteries Board. It has however been erroneously gazetted under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In this light, Asoka Obeyesekere, Executive Director, TISL stated that “it would seem clear that assigning lotteries to any other minister, other than the Finance Minister, is incorrect in law and in contravention of the intentions of Parliament when passing the Act”.
TISL called on President Sirisena to correct the error in the gazette notification, thereby bringing the National Lotteries Board under the purview of the Finance Ministry. The correction of this error would allay any fears that state bodies are retained as personal privileges.
TISL recalls the considerable work carried out by Prof. Siri Hettige, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Colombo, who through the Campaign for Sound National Policies, highlighted the appropriate ministries to be created, with all agencies and departments identified to be placed under their respective ministries in early 2015. This advice was provided to President Sirisena.
It is incumbent on President Sirisena, as Head of the Cabinet, to ensure that steps are taken to rectify such errors. This can be done by ensuring that the National Lotteries Board is re-gazetted and brought under the purview of the Finance Minister, in adherence to its statute.