Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 March 2015





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Government Gazette

Controversial bond issue takes centre stage

The controversial Treasury bond issue turned into a much debated topic on the floor of the House and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe making a detailed statement told Parliament as to how the Government had acted in a much different manner compared to previous regime in the face of allegations.

The Premier explaining the democratic form of his governance posed a challenge to the main Opposition UPFA to contest against them at a general election without indulging in mud-slinging.

Premier Wickremesinghe said that this would be the first time in recent history that the Government has appointed a committee to investigate and report to Parliament on allegations of corruption against the Government. During the past 10 years, there had been numerous allegations on malpractices in the financial sector, but no action had been taken to conduct any investigations. He recalled how some of those responsible remained deaf and blind in the face of such allegations and also attempted to sweep them under the carpet.


Premier Wickremesinghe said that those who had been waiting to “send Maithripala Sirisena six feet down” if he lost the Presidential election are now trying to teach good governance and give lessons on morals. His elaborative speech was a clear reflection on how the incumbent Government has been effecting changes during the past two months putting an end to the dark era of the former regime as desired by the people. We do not have a bond issue but an issue of persons who had been rejected by the people”, he said.

Wickremesinghe told the House that a three-member committee appointed by him would look into the sale of Treasury bonds from 2012 to date and to ascertain as to how many malpractices and frauds had taken place during the previous regime. He told the House that Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran would be on leave until the investigations are completed.

Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the Prime Minister in his 45-minute lengthy speech focused attention on various other factors by ignoring the core issue and demanded a special debate on the controversial bond issue. Accordingly, at the Party Leaders meeting on Wednesday it was decided to allocate three hours for a debate on Thursday. The Opposition members who joined in the Adjournment Debate demanded to know from the Government as to why a Singaporean citizen was appointed Central Bank Governor.

Visa status

The Opposition Leader who opened the debate said that the Opposition has no intention of pressing for impounding the passport of a Singaporean citizen, but demanded to table the visa status of Mahendran in Parliament. De Silva said that the Prime Minister had played with words and avoided the questions posed by the Opposition on the controversial bond issue.

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said the Government has initiated an investigation on the bond issue to show its transparency.

If the Opposition Leader questions the citizenship of Mahendran, what about those who held dual citizenships during the previous regime? There were US citizens who held top positions in the former Government, he said.

Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr Harsha De Silva responding to a query by UPFA MP Lalith Dissanayake who demanded to know whether a citizen of another country was eligible to be the Central Bank Governor told the House that the citizenship did not matter in considering the eligibility of a person to be appointed to the post of Central Bank Governor.

He said the very first Central Bank Governor John Exter was also not a Sri Lankan citizen. He was an American economist and held that position from 1950 to 1953. Presenting Amendments to the United Nations Act giving effect in Sri Lanka to the UN Security Council Resolutions against money laundering and financing of terrorism, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said the Government, under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena pursues a policy of working with all countries.

This important anniversary also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the setting up of the United Nations Organisation. To achieve meaningful reconciliation, strengthen democracy, good governance and the rule of law and re-build our country’ international image and consensual democracy championed by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as against a culture of adversarial politics is an absolute necessity, the Foreign Minister said.

Former State Higher Education Minister Prof Rajiva Wijesingha on Tuesday crossed over to the Opposition in Parliament expressing his opposition against the proposed 19th Amendment to the Constitution and giving executive powers to the Prime Minister.

Since the National Unity Government was formed under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena, this was the first cross-over by a Government member to the Opposition. Prof. Wijesingha in his statement described the move to gazette the 19th Amendment and transfer of executive powers to the Prime Minister as ill-timed and a wrong decision.

The transfer of executive powers to the Prime Minister was extremely dangerous considering the manner the incumbent Prime Minister was conducting himself, Wijesingha said.

The prevailing media culture in the country came to light following a query raised by UPFA parliamentarian Shantha Bandara who attempted to portray that media freedom was being curtailed and cited certain comments by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Media Minister Gayantha Karunatilake who categorically rejected the MP's claim said that the Premier only made observations on the conduct of certain media institutions.

The Government has ensured media freedom unlike the Rajapaksa regime where white vans had kidnapped those who raised their voice against the then government.

The Minister told the House that the Government has launched an investigation on the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda and provided relief to his family. Minister Karunatilake said he had already made an open invitation to journalists who had left the country owing to political pressure and threats to their lives, to return to the county.

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