Research Paper

Sectoral Risk Assessment in Sri Lanka

Chapter: Sri Lanka | Year: 2019

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Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is a National Chapter of Transparency International (TI), the leading global movement against corruption. TI raises awareness of the damaging effects of corruption and works with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle it.

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Theory of Change

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Despite an initial energetic start by the Sri Lankan Government with the creation of a number of bodies dealing with the SDGs, such as the Ministry of Sustainable Development and wildlife and the Sustainable Development Council to name a few, there has been little progress in terms of implementation, or of streamlining action across relevant ministries and public authorities. This lack of coordinated action becomes clear when considering that out of the 244 official SDG indicators, information is only available and being gathered for 46 indicators which mostly provides a quantitative perspective and lacks a qualitative insight into progress made. Furthermore, the indicators do not take into account the role of corruption when achieving targets.

In an effort to bridge this gap the Transparency International Secretariat developed a civil society reporting guideline which outlines alternative indicators and data sources relevant to 4 corruption related targets under Goal 16, namely 16.4, 16.5, 16.6 and 16.10. Taking this a step further Transparency International Sri Lanka initiated an assessment of corruption risk factors in 4 specific SDGs, Goal 4 – Health, Goal 5 – Education, Goal 6 – Gender and Goal 13 – Climate Action, to identify forms of corruption that may affect its fullest achievement in order to develop indicators to ensure that this threat is mitigated.

These indicators can feed into the overall SDG monitoring framework of Sri Lanka and can be used by non-state actors when advocating for change and progress relevant to each of the sectors.


Four Sustainable Development Goals - Health, Education, Gender and Climate Change were assessed through the lens of corruption to identify and provide an overview of risk that may hinder the achievement of these goals in Sri Lanka.

Each Goal were viewed from three dimensions:

• Mapping of the different stakeholders in the particular sector
• Identifying the types of corruption and the most prevalent practices of corruption in the sector.
• Identifying gaps in the legal framework

The methodology employed in this assessment comprised of the following steps:

• A literature survey – this involved a review of published journals, articles, research papers, electronic media and websites.
• Preliminary Stakeholder Discussions
• Discussions with specific sector stakeholders discussing and sharing their experience and views on the topics mentioned below.

• How does corruption happen in their respective sector?
• What are the most prevalent practices of Corruption?
• What are the risk hot-spots/most prevalent area which corruption occurs in the sector?
• What are the gaps in the legal framework?

Interviews with experts in the selected sectors – this involved four extended interviews with an expert in each sector.

• Health Sector – President of a prominent health sector association.

Preliminary Stakeholder Discussions were conducted in two events organized by Transparency International Sri Lanka. Stakeholders from each sector were invited
in order to discuss the aforementioned topics to gather relevant data. The data which was gathered through the steps explained above was reviewed by the Transparency
International Secretariat (TIS) and comments and suggestions were provided on the findings.

The data which was gathered through the steps explained above was reviewed by the Transparency International Secretariat (TIS) and comments and suggestions were provided on the findings.


  1. Corruption takes place in a subtle but systematic way on a daily basis in the health sector. The most prevalent forms of corruption include informal payments by patients to service providers; absenteeism (workers who are legitimately on a payroll but are chronically absent without approval); ghost workers (non-existent individuals receiving salaries through the payroll system); reimbursement fraud (requesting insurance payments for services not rendered); dual practice (clinicians with salaries in the public sector who also maintain a private practice to divert patients or resources for their own financial gain); and improper marketing (promoting a drug for a clinical indication that is not approved for use; misleading marketing claims).
  2. Moreover, types of corruption in the health sector can also occur across multiple dimensions. According to Transparency International’s findings there are eight key areas of susceptibility: (i) health-systems governance; (ii) health-systems regulation; (iii) research and development; (iv) marketing; (v) procurement; (vi) product distribution and storage; (vii) financial and workforce management; and (viii) delivery of healthcare services (Petkov and Cohen, 2016).


  • Corruption in health, education, gender and climate change sector is a major challenge to achieving sustainable development. Efforts to curb corruption need to begin locally, recognising the unique and destructive consequences of corruption. We argue that combating corruption should be a core value of the SDGs, due to its links to human rights, equity, and economic development. Combating corruption in these sectors are critical to ensure the sustainability of human development in 2030 and beyond.


TI Sri Lanka presented the findings and identified indicators to the relevant stakeholders in each sector including the Government Institutions and Civil Society Organisations and advocate to integrate the indicators to capture progress against corruption and achieve policy improvements in the health sector.