Sept 17, Colombo: Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing corruption and fraud in state institutions that the DPJ Building was selected for the relocation of the Agriculture Ministry based on a Cabinet decision.
Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry yesterday regarding the investigations into the lease of the DPJ Building to house Agriculture Ministry, the Prime Minister said that on no occasion had he instructed the officials to select that building for the Agriculture Ministry.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe further testified that he had informed the Agriculture Ministry to inspect three buildings which were to be leased out and decide on one and he never mentioned only one building.
The Prime Minister said that he has never instructed anyone to select a particular building specifically.
The Prime Minister has taken steps to give evidence without any hesitation before two Presidential Commissions appointed by the President and the Parliamentary Select Committee, when he was summoned.
The Premier said that a committee had decided that the Ministry should be relocated to a private building until Stage III of the Sethsiripaya building complex was completed.
Responding to the questioning by the Additional Solicitor General Ayesha Jinasena, the Prime Minister said he was not aware of the decision taken by the Defiance Ministry Additional Secretary Palitha Samarasinghe to relocate the Agriculture Ministry in the 15th floor of Suhurupaya building complex.
The Prime Minister also said that he was not aware that a partition case was proceeding regarding the land on which the DPJ building complex was located. He also said that he was not aware of the parties involved in this case. "It was not known to me that Upali Jayasinghe and Dilshan Jayasinghe were listed as the 10th and eleventh respondents in the case. I did not know anything about the interior of this building," he said.
The Prime Minister further explained that according to the main plan of Parliament and its adjoining areas, a number of buildings including the official residences of the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker and others should be constructed but the government does not have the money.
"We cannot spend money for constructions because we don't have money. What is more important is to take the highway to Kaduwela on the pillars and provide road access to the people," he said.
Responding to a query by Chairman of PCoI Justice Upali Abeyratne, the Prime Minister said there was no conspiracy behind the renting of the building. However, the Prime Minister testified that after relocating to the building there were many problems.
President's Counsel Ronald Perera who appeared before the Commission on behalf of the Prime Minister asked the Prime Minister whether all ministers were under the Prime Minister's supervision.
Responding to this, the Prime Minister clarified that the SLFP ministers, who were in the unity government, came under the supervision of the President and the ministers of the United National Front were under his supervision.
President's Counsel Ronald Perera and Dinesh Vidanapathirana appeared for the Prime Minister. Minister Thilak Marapana, Minister Vajira Abeywardena, Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Minister Rajitha Senaratne, Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Minister Daya Gamage and Deputy Minister JC Alawathuwala were present and Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake were also present.