Basil Rajapaksa, the newly appointed Sri Lankan Minister of Finance and the fourth Rajapaksa brother to enter the Cabinet instructed state officials to refrain from committing corruption and burdening the public despite difficulties amidst the pandemic.
During a meeting with Governors, Provincial Chief and District Secretaries and others, Rajapaksa asked officials to make significant changes to reduce fraud and corruption in all sectors.
The meeting follows a damning report by the US State Department which highlighted that "public sector corruption is a significant challenge for U.S. firms operating in Sri Lanka and a constraint on foreign investment". The report notes that despite Sri Lanka having "generally adequate laws and regulations to combat corruption, enforcement is often weak and inconsistent". It further adds that "historically, the main political parties do not pursue corruption cases against each other after gaining or losing political positions.
Basil Rajapaksa himself has a history of corruption and embezzlement. A 2007 leaked US embassy cable noted that Basil “worked for the Ministry of Mahaweli Development, where he earned the nickname "Mr. Ten Percent" for demanding a ten percent commission on every project”. “Embassy contacts say Basil has no close advisors and more enemies than friends in Sri Lanka because he makes a habit of trying to "buy people”,” the cable added, noting that at the time “Basil continues to be accused of significant corruption in his current position”.
Watch Basil Rajapaksa full address here