Sri Lanka: Finance Minister’s Chameleonian Episode

Minister Ravi Karunanayake clears former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and himself

(March 8, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)  The Finance Minister of Sri Lanka of “yahapalana” government , Ravi Karunanayake yesterday told Parliament that neither he nor his predecessor former President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed the controversial Gazette dated January 1, 2015 on the issuance of Treasury bonds.

Commencing the debate on two Orders under the Excise (Special Provisions) Act for debate, Minister Karunanayake said that the Gazette Notification No. 1895/19 had not been referred to the Finance Ministry contrary to the standard practice. It had been signed by the Public Debt Superintendent and sent to the Government Printer.

The Finance Minister said the former President Rajapaksa could go before court challenging the particular gazette so that the truth would be known to everybody.  “When issuing the gazette, I followed the tradition practised by Rajapaksa, Ajith Nivard Cabraal and P B Jayasundara since 2005. Former President Rajapaksa had placed his signature to a similar gazette on December 31, 2012, but from 2013-2015 the Central Bank had Gazetted them without the signature of the Finance Minister.”

Minister Karunanayake said that out of the Rs 7.8 billion bonds issued from 2005- January 8, 2015, 80.8 per cent had been by way of private placements. “These were shared among three to four individuals. As much as 68 per cent of these private placements went to three institutions, as 33 per cent to Commercial Bank, 17 per cent to Hatton National Bank and 18 per cent to Seylan Bank,” he said.

The minister said the Prime Minister insisted on public auction instead of private placement with the intention of preventing malpractices.

The minister said strict laws were needed to manage non-banking financial institutions in the country as they faced a risky situation due to the previous government’s mismanagement of the sector.

“The former government permitted to start 54 such institutions whereas the country only needed 15-20,” he said.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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