June 20, Colombo: A fundamental rights petition was filed in the Supreme Court by Transparency International Sri Lanka and 3 individuals calling for action against persons responsible for the current economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
The Attorney-General (representing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa), Former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, Former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Former Secretary to the Treasury S.R. Attygalle and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are among 13 respondents named in the petition.
This matter was filed in the public interest, considering the lack of accountability and transparency in high level decision-making that has brought Sri Lanka to its knees.
The petition lists a number of factors that led to the current economic crisis. Here are some of the highlights:
1) The reduction in government revenue caused by the illegal and arbitrary tax breaks granted in 2019
2) Failure to reverse the illegal tax break
3) Failure to take remedial measures subsequent to rating downgrades.
4) Failure to devalue the Sri Lankan Rupee in a timely, orderly and appropriate manner despite widespread calls to do so
5) The decision to continue servicing sovereign debt without any restructuring
6) The refusal to seek the assistance of the IMF until the crisis had exacerbated
The Petitioners argue that the fundamental rights of the citizens to equality, freedom of expression and the right to information guaranteed under the Constitution have been violated through the actions or inactions of the respondents, among other rights.
The petition claims that the respondents named in the petition are directly responsible for the unsustainability of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt, its hard default on foreign loan repayments and the current state of the economy of Sri Lanka.
It adds that the actions and inaction of the respondents has led to the current shortages of food, medicine, fuel and gas in the country, victimizing the entire population in an unprecedented manner.
The petition calls for the respondents to be held accountable for their illegal, arbitrary and unreasonable acts or omissions which culminated in the current economic crisis.
The co-petitioners are Chandra Jayaratne, Jehan CanagaRetna and Julian Bolling.