Jan 18, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today said he will provide his fullest support to implement the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission appointed to investigate the Central Bank bond issues and recover the billions of rupees lost to the government.
Making a special statement to the nation, the Prime Minister pointed out that ever since the bond issue came to light, he took measures to assist the inquiry into the bond scam by the Perpetual Treasuries Ltd. with the involvement of the then Central Bank governor Arjun Mahendran, who was appointed in 2015 by the current government.
The Premier pointing out that this government came to power to stop corruption and fraud penalize the perpetrators irrespective of party, color or position, said the government never tried to sweep the bond issue under the carpet.
He said the bond scam accusation was made shortly after the Government took office in 2015 and a Commission of Inquiry was appointed within two weeks. During the inquiry period the Central Bank Governor was removed from his official duties. The parliament was also informed and instructed to form a committee to probe the accusations. The report of the Commission of Inquiry was tabled in the parliament.
COPE had recommended that special investigations should be mooted into Perpetual Treasuries firm as the Parliament wanted. The Premier noted that until then the chairman of the COPE was a ruling party MP but the chairmanship was then given to an opposition MP.
The COPE presented the report of its inquiry into the bond issue in parliament and it was debated in parliament. The Premier on 31 October 2016 handed over the COPE report to the Attorney General to take appropriate legal action.
COPE has recommended further investigations into the Perpetual Treasuries and accordingly, the President following discussions with the Prime Minister has appointed the Bond Commission.
"We provided our support to the Commission's activities, our ministers appeared before the Commission. Even I appeared before the Commission. No other government has acted like this into any other inquiries. We investigated the issue three times through different committees," the Premier said.
"During the previous regime similar allegations were made at many occasions but no inquiry has been done in to any of the allegations. There were even no responses made when queried in Parliament," he said.
He pointed out that the parliament is in charge of monetary control in Sri Lanka but it has forgotten to exercise that power and the Present government entrusted the parliament and the COPE committee to handle this issue in order to reconsolidate the power of Parliamentís financial management. It was a clear example of the government's transparency, he added.
It is mentioned in the Commissionís report that Perpetual Treasuries had fraudulently earned 9.2 billion rupees through these bonds. The Central Bank which is under his Ministerial Portfolio has kept 12 million rupees of this Company. Therefore as recommended by the Commission, the sum of 9.2 billion rupees can be recovered.
"They would be adhering to the initiatives recommended by the Commission. Then the Government can get this entire sum. The Government will not incur any loss. Also if any of the officials are involved in this fraud, the law will be enforced against them," he added.
The Prime Minister said that they extended their maximum support to the inquiries with respect to the accusations made on bonds. He said that optimum action would be taken to implement the recommendations of the Commission.
He said that their Government is a disciplined and civilized one and this has been proved through their acts and deeds. They have not hitherto witnessed a Government that has followed this path. He said that their party would develop the country adhering to the good governance policies. A better future will be created.
The Prime Minister said a special committee headed by Minister Thilak Marapana has been appointed to inquire into as to whether any UNP members are also faced with the accusations.
The initiatives taken from the time the bond issue surfaced up to date clearly depicts that a better beginning has been made. They were not looking into fraud and corruption of only the previous regime. But fraud and corruption charges made at present will also be inquired into and suitable action taken.