- Claims out of Rs. 10 trillion foreign debt during last 10 years of MR regime, only Rs. 1 trillion can be accounted for by way of assets and balance missing
- Alleges Govt. losing revenue due to companies linked to Ministers and MPs getting concessions
- Blames UNP for disagreeing to SLFP proposal to debate Bond and PRECIFAC Reports before LG Polls
- Says a coalition of VVIP rogues is scheming to avert legal action against those responsible for bond scam; promises to expose the elite mafia soon
- Urges people to support him to root out corrupt politicians
- Describes Ravi K’s attempt to make a statement in Parliament as “suicidal”
By Nisthar Cassim
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday took his fight against corruption to a new height levelling serious charges on his coalition partner the United National Party (UNP) and his nemesis and predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Dropping a bombshell during the first breakfast meeting with editors and media heads for the New Year and barely two weeks before crucial LG polls, the President yesterday alleged almost the entirety of foreign funding received in the last 10 years under during Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime was unaccounted for.
He also claimed that the Treasury was losing revenue due to companies linked to Ministers and MPs getting concessions, and blamed the UNP for disagreeing to a Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) proposal to debate reports of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the controversial Treasury bond issuance and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption, and Abuse of Power (PRECIFAC) before the 10 February local government elections.
Sirisena alleged that a coalition of VVIP rogues is scheming to avert legal action against those responsible for the bond scam, but promised to expose the elite mafia soon whilst urging the people to support him to root out corrupt politicians.
The President said of the foreign loans of Rs. 10 trillion obtained in the last decade, only Rs. 1 trillion can be accounted for by way of assets, and charged that the balance was missing.
“We are aware that Rs. 10 trillion came into the country in the last 10 years of the Rajapaksa regime, and it should be somewhere, but what is shown is only one trillion. It should be on records in the Finance Ministry, but its documents show only Rs. 1 trillion. The other nine trillion is missing. This is a major puzzle,” said Sirisena.
However data dished out by President appears incorrect when compared with Central Bank figures which put Sri Lanka’s total outstanding debt at Rs. 10.3 trillion of which only Rs. 4.6 trillion is foreign.
However stressing to the editors and journalists present that that he was speaking with responsibility, Sirisena said: “We have to clearly know exactly what happened to foreign loans received.”
He added that the Government revenue was also down as some private companies with links to Ministers/MPs were getting benefits. This has been done in a systematic manner to avoid disclosure, he added.
The President noted that though successive annual budgets make specific allocations to Ministries and State institutions, only 50%-60% are actually given and used.
Coalition of VVIP rogues on both sides closed the book
Focusing on the contentious bond scam, Sirisena faulted his coalition partner the UNP for disagreeing with the SLFP to debate the Commission’s report prior to the 10 February LG polls. “The SFLP recommended the debate be held early, but the UNP declined,” said Sirisena who is the head of the SLFP. At one point during his initial remarks, President said that “both sides closed the book” meaning the UNP, the SLFP as well as the Opposition since the PRECIFAC reports point to alleged corruption by many Ministers in the previous regime.
However, Sirisena alleged that a coalition of VVIP rogues were scheming to avert any legal action against the bond scam and other frauds. Assuring he will reveal the elite mafia, the President urged people to support him to root out corrupt politicians.
“I left the ministerial post in the last government and became the common candidate with the promise of ending frauds, bribery and corruption. I have to oppose these things without thinking of tomorrow. I am being subject to all kinds of criticism. Ensuring good governance is not an easy task but I will fight my way and do my best. Legal action will be taken against those found guilty in the two commission reports. These will be done irrespective of who is involved, in whatever party they belong to,” Sirisena said.
No pages missing
Noting that though many persons in the Government and the opposition were angry about the steps he has taken in his fight against corruption, the President said he will not give up.
He recalled that after receiving the Bond commission and PRECIFA reports, the Opposition had continuously urged to make it public and hold a debate immediately.
“I think the demand to make the reports public was for political reasons, but in my view it is significant as it concerns the economy of the country. Therefore, it’s necessary to address various issues raised in the report,” he said.
“Within three days, I went through it and made a statement with regard to it after consulting the Attorney General, the Central Bank, and senior legal experts and senior public servants. This statement wasn’t drafted by me but a collectively prepared one, which is a first in my near 50 year political career. Thereafter the bond commission and PRECIFAC reports were presented in Parliament. However, surprisingly these parties are now silent after the reports were made public as both expose their corruption and frauds,” Sirisena said.
He denied the allegation that some pages were missing or withheld but added that the full documents could fill two lorry loads. There are certain contents in the report and documents which have to be safeguarded in secrecy, he said, as they will be required at the time of taking legal action.
Response to Ravi K’s suicidal statement
Sirisena also responded to attempts by former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to make a statement in Parliament to clear his name and faulting the President’s original statement. “First, the Prime Minister cautioned [Karunanayake] not to make a statement. Thereafter, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ruled him not to make the statement. If he had made the statement it would have been suicidal,” he said.
“I left the former government to fight against corruption and bribery. It was on that platform, that I was elected. I have to oppose these things without thinking of tomorrow. I am being subject to all kinds of criticism including from MP Ravi Karunanayake,” he reiterated.