The Central Bank bond scam has emerged a key challenge to Sri Lanka’s national unity government
by Meera Srinivasan
( January 10, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Tension prevailed in Sri Lankan parliament on Wednesday, as lawmakers traded accusations while debating a major bond scam in the country’s Central Bank.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya adjourned parliament, even as a heated exchange among members began, following a protest by opposition forces aligned to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made a speech.
The House convened to debate a report of a Presidential Commission of Inquiry that held former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran responsible for an LKR 11,145 million-loss to public institutions, consequent to the illegal bond issue. Mr. Mahendran, who was chosen by PM Wickremesinghe for the role of Governor, had leaked confidential information to his son-in-law on the bond issue, according to the report.
Opposition politicians complained that they had not received the report of a recent Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the bond issue. They walked into the middle of the chamber, carrying placards and shouting slogans. “About 50 politicians from both sides of the 225-member Parliament took part in the scrum. It was unclear if anyone was injured, but some had their shirts torn off,” the Associated Press reported.
“Utter pandemonium in Parliamant. Apparently some one threw an object at SriLanka PM while speaking in the Chamber. Didn’t see. Disgraceful.” Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Harsha De Silva tweeted.
Making a televised statement based on the report last week, President Maithripala Sirisena vowed legal action against offenders. The Commission, he observed, recommended in its report that the Central Bank also conduct a forensic audit to investigate corrupt practices and fraud from 2008, when Mr. Rajapaksa was in power.
Following his statement, the Leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), or People’s Liberation Front, and the Joint Opposition – an informal coalition of pro-Rajapaksa forces, demanded that the report of the Presidential inquiry commission be tabled in parliament.
The Central Bank bond scam has emerged a key challenge to Sri Lanka’s national unity government, which rose to power in January 2015 on the promise of good governance.