President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, through his Secretary P.B. Jayasundera, responded to the letter sent by former minister Mangala Samaraweera stating that the document was compiled based on misinformation.
In his reply, Mr. Jayasundera pointed out that if the Appropriation Bill was not passed at the time of dissolution of Parliament, then under Article 150(3) of the Constitution, the President was empowered to meet the expenses via a Vote on Account bill for up to three months of convening the new Parliament.
He said the President regretted the unwillingness of the former finance minister, an ardent believer in the neo-liberal socio-economic model, to allow people to assert their democratic right through elections. Excerpts of the letter:
“This is regarding the letter sent by you to the President on 28.04.2020. I have been instructed by the President to convey that it had been observed this letter is comprised of many factual inaccuracies and it is a matter of deep regret to receive such a letter from a former finance minister. When studying the contents of this letter, the following observations were made:
“The failure to note that the government which came to power in 2015 was able to present a budget only within 21 days because the Appropriation Bill and relevant budget estimates for year 2015 were already passed in October 2014.
“From 2015 to 2019, both you and the finance minister before you had presented a number of supplementary estimates each year whilst failing to ensure the legality of relevant legislation related to budget proposals in Parliament.
“The failure to note that despite the Appropriation Bill and budget estimate for 2019, that arrears of Rs.182 billion, which included unpaid bills for fertiliser, medicine, relief for elders and material and services for construction projects, were allowed to remain.
“Obtaining foreign loans to the amount of Rs.211 billion but failing to include these in the public accounts even after spending it without any approved allocation.
“Failing to clearly state reasons for the decline in the growth of national income from 5 to 2.5 per cent annually and the widening gap in State loans and the budget deficit.”