'Miscommunication over calculation of state borrowings' - Eran
There has been a change in the current calculation of government
borrowings. Instead of the net borrowings of Treasury Bills the total
borrowings through Treasury Bills has been substituted which has caused
confusion, Deputy Minister of State Enterprise Development Eran
Wickramaratne told an interview with the Sunday Observer, in response to
the Auditor General's Report on government borrowings.
Q: What is your view on the Auditor General's Report on
A:There has been a miscommunication with regard to the
calculation of government borrowings which needs to be clarified. In the
past, the total borrowing was calculated to check whether it fell within
the approved borrowing limit. The borrowings through Treasury Bills were
netted out with the repayment of Treasury Bills during that period. It
is the net borrowings of Treasury Bills that was used in calculating
total borrowings. The net borrowings of Treasury Bills, other domestic
and foreign borrowings equated the total borrowings.
This was the figure monitored against the approved borrowing limit.
By this calculation it could be checked whether total borrowings are
within the approved limit. However, there has been a change with the
method adopted in the past. The net borrowings of Treasury Bills has
been substituted with the total borrowings through Treasury Bills.
A note to the Auditor General's Report could have avoided the
confusion whether the country had exceeded its borrowings over the
approved limit. The country would have exceeded its approved borrowing
limit every year, if this new method of calculating was applied during
the past 10 years. Therefore, any change in the method of accounting
should be explained with a note to the accounts or opinions expressed.
Q: How do you respond to the accusation levelled by opposition
MP Prof. G.L. Peiris that the Joint Opposition is of the view that
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake had tried to influence Auditor
General Gamini Wijesinghe on audit standards and the decision on the
COPE investigation on the bond scam by the former Central Bank Governor
Arjuna Mahendran, by inviting the Auditor General to the Finance
Ministry last week.
A:The Auditor General is an independent constitutional
position. No one can intimidate him or her and the government is
committed to protect its independence. A question does not arise on the
behaviour of the Auditor General which will be safeguarded by
Parliament. The comments by Prof. G.L Peiris were made on the opinion
expressed by the Auditor General and the lack of clarity in the opinion.
The comments made by Prof. G.L Peiris are misleading.