President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, through his Secretary P. B. Jayasundera, responded to the letter sent by former minister Mangala Samaraweera saying that the letter was compiled based on a number of misinformation.
In his reply, Mr. Jayasundera pointed out that if the Appropriation Bill was not passed at the time of the dissolution of Parliament, then under Article 150(3) of the Constitution, President is empowered to meet the expenses via a Vote on Account bill for up to 03 months of convening the new Parliament.
He said that the President regrets 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.
The complete letter:
Hon. Mangala Samaraweera
Former Member of Parliament
Request for the re-summoning of Parliament to conditionally resolve crises and to approve public expenditure
This is regarding the letter sent by you to His Excellency the President on 28.04.2020.
I have been instructed by His Excellency the President to convey that it has been observed that 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.
1. The failure to note that the Government that came to power in 2015 was able to present a budget only within 21 days because the Appropriation Bill and the relevant budget estimates for year the 2015 were already passed in October 2014.
2. 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 legislations related to budget proposals, in Parliament.
3. The failure to note that despite the Appropriation Bill and the budget estimate for 2019, that arrears of Rs. 182 billion, which included unpaid bills for fertilizer, medicines, relief for elders and material and services for construction projects, were allowed to remain.
4. 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 allocations.
5. Failing to clearly state reasons for the decline in the growth of the national income from 5 percent to 2.5 percent annually and the widening gap in State loans and the budget deficit.
6. Failing to note that the foreign loans were defaulted even after selling off national assets like the Hambantota Port and not accommodating the depositors with any relief when financial institutions such as ETI collapsed.
7. If the Appropriation Bill was not passed at the time of the dissolution of Parliament, then under Article 150(3) of the Constitution, President is empowered to meet the expenses via a Vote on Account bill for up to 03 months of convening the new Parliament. This procedure has been followed in all previous instances when the Parliament was dissolved before passing the Appropriation Bill and is well within the legal frame. Yet, having held the position of the Finance Minister, you have failed to indicate that you are aware of this process.
His Excellency the President has directed me to bring to your attention the regrettable fact that the proposal to settle arrears of Rs.. 182 billion and Rs. 211 billion foreign loaned project funds incurred when you were the Finance Minister, was rejected when presented in Parliament. This was rejected despite been presented by the Prime Minister with the approval of the new Cabinet of Ministers of the Government appointed after the Presidential Elections and that of the Attorney General. Through this action, the President was prevented from fulfilling the mandate given to him by the majority of the people. This is in complete contrast to the support extended by the then Opposition to the minority government of 2015.
Above all, His Excellency the President has directed me to communicate to you that he is perplexed as to the possible reasons for an educated, intelligent and an ardent believer in neo-liberal socio-economic model and a senior politician who had managed the economy such as yourself to desist from allowing people to exercise their democratic right through the participation in elections.
P. B. Jayasundera
Secretary to the President