President Maithripala Sirisena had said earlier this week that the one-day Parliamentary debate on the Bond Commission’s report and the PRECIFAC report scheduled on February 6, is simply a ‘scheme’ instead of a meaningful one.
In an interview with multiple media personnel at his official residence, the President said this was a debate which should have taken place days ago and continued for days without a disruption. He went on to say that the debate was organised even for a day prior to the local government election on the 10th of February due to the challenge he had thrown against it.
President Sirisena also stated that the United National Party (UNP) must take the responsibility of the failure to take action against the charges levelled against the Rajapaksa family.The President went on to highlight thatthe ministers who are in charge of the Law and Order, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Attorney General’s Department should take the responsibility, because, when ministerial portfolios were allocated in the unity government, the portfolios which have a great effect on taking legal action against the corrupt were handed over to the UNP Ministers.
The president had said to hold the debate prior to the 10th of February. The public also backed this up and therefore the debate had to be conducted before the 10th. However, the President was in fact doubtful to which extent this debate will be successful. He noted that it was not possible to debate on the entire report in just a few hours and that he was also doubtful as to whether MPs would even show up for the debate to be held. The president went on to state, “Election propaganda activities will come to an end on February 7. All ministers and MPs will be engaged in propaganda activities in their respective wards on February 6 and 7. From that, how many will turn up for the debate? Even if they turned up, how many will engage in the debate productively? For how long one person will talk? This is not a debate which can be done in 5 to 10 minutes. This is deeper than that and complicated. The debate had been arranged in a hurried manner as a mere show to the country only because I made a challenge. The complete responsibility of not taking legal action against the Rajapaksas, should be taken by the Ministers who are holding the Police, the CID, the AG’s Department under their purview. I have told this before as well. Then, one may ask whether the same thing will happen to these commissions. It won’t because I’m the one who appointed Presidential Commissions. All the other things happened from 2015 were done by the respective ministries. The Anti-Corruption Secretariat office was at Temple Trees”.
In lieu with this, the Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera stated that even though the bond issue was just a minor issue for the United National Party, the Bond Commission report had clearly stated that no person from the UNP, including its leader, had done anything wrong. He noted that the case against Perpetual Treasuries Ltd (PTL) owner Arjun Aloysius would be taken up as the first case before a 3-judge-bench as a trial-at-bar to be established next March. The minister said that Aloysius has damaged the reputation of the country and had done a great injustice to the country. The minister also urged for “Justice to Prevail”.
He then went on to state that the money that Aloysius had stolen could be recovered now as his assets had recently been frozen. Unlike all the other times, the money that Aloysius had looted is luckily in the country rather than overseas.
Meanwhile, during an election rally earlier this week, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said that the special high courts investigations on serious frauds and corruption will commence its proceedings from August later this year. The Premier noted that theCabinet paper which had been submitted by Minister of Justice Talatha Atthukorala was approved by the Cabinet and it is to be handed over to Parliament soon. He also noted that the UNP’s stand on the issue is that the new courts should first hear the cases on corruption which has taken place during the current governing. The Premier emphasised on the fact that the practice that had been carried out in the past on corruption and fraud is that a new government is formed and then that government usually conducts investigation on corrupt activities that had occurred during the previous reign and that this current regime had changed its practice and carried out investigations into the bond scam.
Later on, State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene had told that both the President and the Prime Minister had been in consensus to take action against corruption in the country. The minister went on to note that those in the UNP and in the SLFP will have to face punishment if it is proven that they have been engaged in fraud and corrupt activities.
He went on to note that the opposing parties and groups like the SLPP will not be able to codnuct and runprojects of development in village scaleswhen the Central government is being run by a different party.
In more related news, the UNP General Secretary Kabir Hashim said in a statement yesterday that the Committee report on the PCoI findings, which was headed by Thilak Marapana, will be handed over to the Working Committee this month.
The statement had read; “In the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the issuance of Treasury Bonds, there are no findings against any member of the United National Party including MP Ravi Karunanayake in regard to the issuance of Treasury Bonds. But, however, the Commission of Inquiry has decided that the Attorney General and the Bribery Commission should determine whether action should be taken against MP Karunanayake under the Bribery Act or other appropriate legislation in respect of their findings that he had derived a substantial benefit from the lease payments made by Walt and Row Associates (Pvt) Ltd., which is an associate company of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd., owned and controlled by the same persons who owned and controlled Perpetual Treasuries Ltd.
The Commission has also said that the Attorney General or other appropriate authorities may rethink as to whether or not the evidence given by MP Karunanayakeis shown to have been incorrect and in that case whether there are grounds for prosecution under Section 179 and or under Section 188 of the Penal Code or other relevant provisions of the law, read with Section 9 of the Commission of Inquiry Act No. 17 of 1948.
In line with this, the Committee appointed by the United National Party Leader has recommended that until a conclusion is reached by the Attorney General or the Bribery Commission that no legal action whatsoever is to be filed against MP Karunanayake or if such action is taken, until the conclusion of that action, steps should be taken to make sure that he does not carry out any duties as an assistant leader of the United National Party.
Recently The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) also added their two cents and had stated that there was an attempt to arrest MP Ravi Karunanayake before the parliamentary debate on the Bond Commission report and then he would be released after the Local Government (LG) elections are over.The Former provincial councillor Ajith Prasanna had noted at a press conference that even the MP’s consent had been given by him to arrest him as well.
Joint Opposition MP Prasanna Ranatunga said today that President Maithripala Sirisena has been trying to safeguard the major bond scam offenders since the start of the first bond issue back inFebruary 2015. Addressing a press conference the MP said that the bond scam should have been stop at the inception if the President had not dissolved the parliament when the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) report in connection with the Central Bank bond issue was handed over to parliament by its chairman D.E.W. Gunasekera, after the first bond issue had broke out on February 2015.
MP Ranatunga noted that the President was well aware that the COPE report had foreseen the responsibility of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in relation with the bond scam. Having known that the Premier was one of the major rogues in this bonds scam, President Sirisena dissolved parliament without even debating the COPE report in order to protect the Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.