PM summoned by Commission only to clarify certain points
BY GAGANI WEERAKOON
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will appear before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Treasury Bonds scam tomorrow in an unprecedented incidence. Much has been said about the matter with Government and Opposition ranks arguing on the correct position - that is whether the Prime Minister has been summoned by the Commission or whether he is voluntarily appearing before the Commission.
Ever since PM Wickremesinghe 'offered' to appear before the fact finding Commission, much had been said. By last week, speculation was circulating amongst both United National Party (UNP) and Sri Lanka Freedom Party ranks to the effect that President Maithripala Sirisena might ask the PM to step down from the post before the latter's expected appearance at the Commission. It was also reported that three senior UNP Ministers met President Sirisena and protested against the PM being 'summoned' to give evidence.
With all these stories starting to circulate, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Ministers Malik Samarawickrema and Kabir Hashim met the President on Monday (13). They had pointed the finger at President's Coordinating Secretary Attorney-at-Law Shiral Lakthilaka of being responsible for all these stories being circulated, a UNP source stated.
Premier Wickremesinghe who will go before the Commission, will most probably be not questioned by the officials of the Attorney General's Department as he is only being requested to come and clarify certain answers he had already forwarded to the Commission through an affidavit. The questionnaire was sent to him by the Commission on an earlier date.
The PM made a statement to Parliament on 17 March 2015 about the Bond issue. That was the first official statement on behalf of the Government on the matter after the commotion following the 27 February 2015 Bond issue.
"The entire speech is in the Hansard of the day. Based on that, there are some of the questions that have to be asked for clarification, verification and explanation from the PM in the public interest. Why did he appoint a committee of inquiry on the 27th itself? Who asked him to do it? Why did he select three UNP lawyers for this investigation? Why didn't he nominate a financial expert or a person knowledgeable on the subject?" the Anti-Corruption Front stated yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) said in Parliament that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is directly responsible for the Treasury Bonds scam.
JVP's Kalutara District MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa participating in the third reading stage debate on Budget 2018 said: "When we look in retrospect from the taking of the Central Bank under his ministerial purview to appointing the Central bank Governor and to the matters which had been revealed in the COPE and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, it is crystal clear that the Prime Minister should be held responsible for the massive loss caused by the Treasury Bond scam. He cannot get away from this crime.
His complicity in the crime is now very clear".
MP Dr. Jayatissa said that the Prime Minister's involvement in the scam is proven with ten factors and outlined them one by one. "The first factor was the Prime Minister taking over the Central Bank separating it from the Finance Ministry. The Central Bank had always been under the Finance Ministry. His taking over of the Central Bank under his wing was similar to then President Mahinda Rajapaksa keeping the Attorney General's Department and Legal Draftsman's Department under his purview.
"The second factor was appointing a foreign citizen for the post of Governor of the Central Bank irrespective of opposition from various quarters.
"Third factor was appointing three lawyers connected to the Sirikotha, UNP headquarters to investigate the Bond scam. The three lawyers had no credentials to prove their ability to investigate a Bond transaction.
"The fourth factor was removing UNP MP M. Velukumar from the COPE in the middle of the investigation of the Bond scam and filling the vacancy with Deputy Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe who had already written a book titled 'Ettha Nettha' (Truth and Untruth) on the issue. Senasinghe had already given his judgment on the matter in his book so he was prejudiced in the investigation.
"The fifth factor is that former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran's statement to the COPE that it was he who ordered the direct placement method for Bond sales.
"The sixth factor was the behaviour of UNP members at the COPE sittins during the Committee's probe on Bond scam. The UNP members of the COPE behaved on the direct instructions of the Prime Minister. Their actions in the Committee proved that they received instructions from a single source.
"The seventh factor was the addition of some facts which had no relevance to the COPE report by the UNP members of the Committee.
"The Governor of the Central Bank Arjun Mahendran was kept in the same position till his term ended though the entire country was shouting against it. That was the eighth factor. The Prime Minister was against the removal and insisted that Mahendran should be there till the latter's term ends.
"The ninth factor was to get Ven. Thiniyawala Palitha Thera of the UNP's Bhiikhu Front to file a petition before the Supreme Court against the COPE report after the release of the report.
"The last factor was not taking any action against those responsible for the crime of the Bond scam even after its exposure and revelation.
"These ten factors would indicate to anyone that the Prime Minister is directly responsible for the Bond scam. He cannot absolve himself of the crime now. The case is proven before the eyes of all," MP Dr. Jayatissa said.
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