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Sunday, 19 June 2016

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President, PM acting under political compulsion - Gamini Viyangoda

Civil society organizations including the Citizen's Power Movement led by convenor Gamini Viyangoda expressed dismay over their meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over the re-appointment of Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendra saying that it was "apparent both leaders were acting under severe political pressure" over the decision.

"They listened to our submission and told us that they would arrive at a decision," he said. "However the impression we got is that both of them were acting under political compulsion and were restrained by their political duties, which is detrimental to good governance."

He added that his group and others had expressed opposition to the reappointment of the CB governor Mahendra due to the controversy over the Central Bank Treasury Bond Sales of last year and this year. "It is the public perception that an individual who has acted in this manner should not be reappointed in this capacity at an institution such as the CB," he said adding that this issue has gone beyond a mere economic talking point to a fully fledged political problem.

Viyangoda recalled the example of the first Sri Lankan governor of the Central Bank N.U. Jayewardene, who was dismissed by a committee of three judges in 1954 over an incident regarding a person loan from a private bank in Sri Lanka. "If an act as that could be deemed improper, then an issue as the sale of Treasury bond is far serious," Viyangoda said.

During the meeting, civil society groups had also requested for the initiation of a separate court to hear cases relating to Bribery and corruption. "We expressed dissatisfaction at the slow process these cases were being taken up," he said.

"The reply we got was that due to the shortage of personnel at the Bribery Commission several cases were pending."

Hence the civil society groups suggested that a court be formed to try these cases. The President and Prime Minister had responded positively to the request he said, saying that it would be considered.

During the meeting which was held on Friday, the group also called on the government to refrain from renaming the Financial Crimes Investigation Department because it 'gives a counterproductive and negative impression.' "An Anti-corruption arm such as this should have a reputation and integrity of its own without it being altered or changed,"a spokesman said.

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