By Saman Indrajith
The TNA, yesterday, demanded from the government that it should take immediate action to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud (PRECIFAC).
Moving a motion at the adjournment of the House for a debate on the PRESIFAC report, TNA MP MA Sumanthiran said that the commission had found serious acts of misconduct. Those offences had been committed at 34 institutions and the names of those responsible had been disclosed in the report. “After the lapse of one full year, no meaningful steps have been taken to apprehend and punish those responsible and I move that the government take immediate steps to implement the said recommendations in the report and take decisive action to punish those responsible without any further delay.”
When MP Sumanthiran got up to move the motion, UPFA MPs Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Wimal Weerawansa opposed to it saying that there were no English and Tamil translations of the report.
Responding to objections raised by opposition MPs Nanayakkara and Weerawansa that the PRECIFAC report had not been made available to them in Sinhala, TNA MP Sumanthiran said that the report was originally in Sinhala which was presented to the house almost a year back.
“On that occasion there was an adjournment debate to be held on two reports and not one. One was the Bond commission report and the other the PRECIFAC report. The Bond Commission report was in English and the PRECIFAC report was only in Sinhala. Prior to taking up the matter in parliament there was an agreement at the party leaders meeting that we will not insist on Tamil and Sinhala translations as long as these reports are in English it can be debated. When the matter came up the PRECIFAC report was only in Sinhala and the objection I raised at that time was not that it was not in Tamil, but that it was not at least in English as agreed at the party leaders meeting. I did not raise any objections with regard to the Bond report. It was being consistently told to the country over a whole year that I stopped the Bond Commission report, which is far from the truth. I did not say a word about the Bond commission report as it was in English. Now that both these reports are now in all three languages. That is why I raised this again in January and wanted a debate as constantly false information is being given to the country that I stopped the Bond commission report debate,” Sumanthiran said.
MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said Sumanthiran could not create new provisions except the provisions in the constitution. He said it had to be in both Sinhala and Tamil.
However, the Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said as it had been agreed, at the party leaders meeting, he allowed Sumanthiran to go ahead and present the motion.
MP Sumanthiran said inquiries had been held into 34 institutions and presented their report to the president on November 27, 2017. In the 600 page detailed report there were 401 complaints made and after sifting through those complaints the commission entertained 1599 complaints with regard to 34 institutions. “This report goes on to name various persons against whom actions must be taken under various laws. Primarily, the Bribery and Corruption Act, Public Properties Act have set out provisions for such offences. The persons against whom findings had been made in this report, the first petition is with regard to the funds of Ceylon Fisheries Harbour Corporation for Negombo Lagoon Development project where a sum of Rs. 11,000,470,000 was misappropriated for holding an election campaign rally for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Negombo Municipal grounds on December 30, 2014 at the expense of 8,950,000. Among the various other amounts are Rs. 175,000 for LED televisions, 1,255,000 for T shirts and caps for the former President’s election campaign, Rs. 1.848 million for putting up a plaque near the Negombo Lagoon, Rs. 1,090,000 for printing diaries.
With regard to ITN, the report revealed that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Keheliya Rambukwella, Priyantha Wickramasinghe, Jayasinghe Arachchilage Upali Ranjith have all been found to have violated various provisions of the law and the commission has recommended filing cases against them by the AG.”
Sumanthiran said the Commission had named parties responsible for irregularities at Rakna Lanka and Avant Garde Maritime Services, icluding Major Gen. Palitha Fernando, Nandasena Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Nissanka Senadhipathy and various others against whom findings had been made. “It has been revealed that serious acts of fraud were committed to the tune of several millions and recommendations have been made that the state take action to prosecute these persons.” He also mentioned several names as regards Sri Lankan Airlines, where misappropriation had taken place, running into millions of rupees. “The report has also revealed details regarding Basil Rajapaksa as implicated in the report together with several other former Ministers.
Sumanthiran said the government had come to power in 2015, promising that it would bright to justice those who had abused public property and resources. “Today, we are unable to ascertain whether any one of these recommendations of the Commission report has been acted upon. A salutary feature of this report is that it has not only recommended punitive action against those responsible but also recommended measures to be taken to avoid this kind of misuse of public funds in the future.”