Central Bank Bond issue Opportunity to reveal true culprits lost
By Shivanthi Ranasinghe
Maithripala Sirisena's statement about the Central Bank Bond Issue was utterly disappointing for those who had been deeply concerned about the scandal and its impact on the economy. Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) supporters especially felt let down, but for a different reason. They waited to utilize this opportunity to permanently banish Ranil Wickremesinghe into political exile.
Had he done so, the United National Party (UNP) would not only have fallen at the upcoming Local Government elections, but would remain prostrate for a very long time. However, apart from repeating what the nation knew all along, he failed to reveal anything new. Instead of releasing to the public domain the much awaited report said to run into about 1,400 pages, he simply read out a summary compiled within two days of releasing the Report. Professionals have accused President Sirisena of burying the Report's most significant findings.
It is in President Sirisena's best interest to destroy Prime Minister Wickremesinghe politically. He did not do so, simply because he could not, for the Premier has protection from very powerful entities.
It was that same support that saved the Premier from the first Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Report headed by D.E.W. Gunasekera in 2015. The reader would recall that despite the UNP's desperation for a General Election during the first 100 days of the Yahapalana Government, President Sirisena mischievously refused to make the call, even though his Government was confused about fulfilling short-sighted election pledges like granting Rs 10,000 to public-sector employees and reducing fuel prices. With each passing day, the Government was getting increasingly mired in rising expenditure and reducing income.
Furthermore, news about the Bond Issue, that took place on the new Government's 50th day, was leaking to the general public, from irate Central Bank employees. From the beginning, the finger was pointed at the Premier. Questions were raised once again about the appointment of Arjuna Mahendran, a Singaporean citizen, as the Governor of the Central Bank despite President Sirisena's reservations about this matter. Similarly, there were calls to remove Mahendran from his post and demands for a thorough investigation.
Though this is a Unity Government consisting of the UNP and SLFP, the general public's perception is that this is a Government led by the UNP. Therefore, while these decisions were taken by Ministers from the UNP and SLFP, the UNP is held accountable.
Though President Sirisena is as liable as the Premier for the Government's decisions, he has been exempted. Some picture him as the moderate who can be reasoned with and the Premier as the extremist, who is unreasonable.
President Sirisena's actions severely damaged the long-held assumption about the Premier's economic management capabilities and his image as 'Mr Clean.' However, the matter was handed over to COPE instead of the Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID). The FCID continues to be overlooked despite its very purpose, investigating allegations of massive financial fraud. The CB Bond Issue is the biggest financial fraud committed in Sri Lanka in post-independence history.
Everyone blamed President Sirisena for dissolving the Government, the day before the COPE Report was released. Many claim that he did so to protect the Unity Government. Had he not saved the Premier the second Bond Issue that rocked the country would not have occurred. His untimely action allowed Mahendran, who had the protection of the Premier, to remain as the Governor after the first scandal in 2015 and continue for almost three months after the second scandal in 2016.
While President Sirisena certainly cannot be extricated from the accusations, it really was not his decision to dissolve Parliament and save the Premier. Allegedly, it was Atul Keshap's call that compelled President Sirisena to do so. This happened when Barack Obama was in office and his administration gloated that they helped SL to get rid of the Rajapaksa Administration. Even John Kerry was of the view that the US played an important part in ensuring the current regime's victory. The then powerful Samantha Power and Nisha Biswal made regular trips to Sri Lanka with Tom Malinowski in tow. Allegedly Jeffrey Feltman, who has a reputation for manipulating governments also visited stealthily for closed- door consultations.
They were all very happy with the "democratic progress" in the country. Since the war, the Bond Issue is the most reported topic, yet they studiously ignored it.
The scandal may well topple the Government that the Obama regime worked so hard to install. The Obama regime spent thousands of tax dollars in the process, but they couldn't care less. Keshap is the sole survivor from that team, now that Donald Trump is in power, for he was too junior to fall into the same radar as Power and Biswal. Allegedly Keshap still attends rallies of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and continues the Hillary Clinton crusade, for Trump's foreign policy specifically states that the US should not meddle with foreign governments.
However, the question is why weren't these 'importers of democracy' perturbed by the Bond Issue. The reason is very simple.
These crusaders care two hoots about the governments they install. Democracy is just a ruse for these regime changers to destabilize a country. Even though they make a big noise, they are least concerned about democracy. They are only concerned about geopolitical interests.
A good example is the United States' decision to choose Pakistan as an ally over India during the Cold War. The United States chose Pakistan over India for two reasons. One was that it was easier to arm the Afghan insurgents who were fighting with the Soviets via Pakistan. The other reason was that the United States was uncomfortable with India's Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The Bond Issue is not like an ordinary theft, where the effect is minor. This has a ripple effect that affects all sectors, resulting in a spike in interest rates. Hence, this affects every citizen in Sri Lanka even when it comes to a small matter like leasing a motorbike. This ripple effect will continue for the next 30 years and will affect future generations as well.
At a recent press conference, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa explained that the damages are far reaching. The national debt at the time of the scam was about Rs 4,200 billion. With the scandal, the interest shot up by 3 per cent, resulting in a loss of about Rs 126 million. With this money, the Colombo-Kandy Expressway could have been completed. Due to loss of credibility, foreign investors left, which devalued the rupee by about 16 per cent. He explained that the cumulative costs are such that we could have built about three ports like the Magampura Port.
The agenda of these 'importers of democracy' is to keep countries like Sri Lanka in debt. History proves this to be the case. During the colonial period, our riches were plundered and taken to the West. While we became destitute, the West, pumped with our resources, advanced in the fields of science and technology. Yet, we were left out of their industrial revolutions. As Dr. Ramesh Pathirana stated on the Eliya platform in Galle, Sri Lanka received steam engines 150 years after they were invented and we received telephones and electric bulbs about 100 years after they were invented. The third revolution, nuclear power, is yet to reach Sri Lanka. We were catching up with the fourth revolution, which is computers and information systems, when our country was pushed back again.
Therefore, it is important to understand that our real enemies are not in the present or previous governments. They are not in the opposition, as in the TNA and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) or the legitimate Joint Opposition. They may be guilty of enacting the foreign agenda or of disunity and internal power struggles and squabbles, but they are not our real enemy.
Our enemy is the one who is coming with various diktats such as the Geneva Resolution and a new Constitution, schemes to create confusion with slander and misinformation, polarization within a harmonious community, and of course debt through corruption and destabilization. The need of the hour is the people's will to stand up as one and protect our country from these characters.
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