Sri Lanka has been a politically independent country for nearly seven decades. We cannot be happy, due to numerous reasons, that our destiny w improve. We shouldn’t be contented with conjecture. Progress will depend not on memories of past grandeur or on political verve, arrogance, rhetoric and noise.
Progress unquestionably depends on honest, concerted and dedicated effort to get to grips with causes underlying the present malaise to assess available resources and capabilities and to adopt appropriate strategies. It could largely depend on the ability, morality, direction and example that the leaders give and the confidence people have in the leadership. Why is that people seem to be doubting the leadership?
Don’t you think that there are numerous pervasive uncertainties at present? Some believe, Utopia is decades away. The politicians seem to believe it is just around the corner. Rajan Philips in an article says – “Many things have happened after January 2015, and again after August 2015 – many good, more bad, and still more ugly. All were given the same pass because January 2015 was deemed a new beginning – the beginning of yahapalanaya. It has been a long beginning and we are now long last at the end of the beginning.”
COPE Chairman in a statement to the media said that the COPE report would not be a unanimous one. Another member had told the media on conditions of anonymity that “Some are attempting to stop discussions”. He had also said that the proceedings had been noisy with a lot of shouting going on at the meetings.
Nevertheless, how about the role of the elected Representatives theoretically in COPE. They should fulfil the role as scrutinisers of the government by ensuring public bodies implement policies in a transparent manner with openness. Being scrutinizers, the elected representatives therefore have been assigned with a task to examine the bond scam by upholding the rule of law and submit a report to the Parliament.
Prime Minister initially appointed a three-member committee to submit a report and there have been severe criticism against the findings of the relevant committee. PM thereafter assured on the floor of the House that a thorough investigation would be ordered to ascertain whether Perpetual Treasuries had made use of inside information. It was also assured that a Select Committee chaired by an Opposition member would be appointed to ascertain as to who were culpable, if needed.
Did the UNP create a mess, which is so intricate by not permitting a fair inquiry, having promised to do justice? Chairman of COPE for the first time in history had walked out stating that he does not approve certain COPE members allegedly influencing the Auditor-General to make modifications in his report in line with the thinking of the UNP. They should not do that. AUDITOR-GENERAL IS AN INDEPENDENT OFFICER OF PARLIAMENT WITH POWERS DERIVED FROM THE CONSTITUTION. This indicates why they are allegedly holding on to the National Audit Bill. Are they truly doing good governance?
Perpetual Treasuries, a company, where Arjun Aloysius, a major shareholder, the son-in-law of the former Central Bank Governor is allegedly blameworthy? The stance taken up by the UNP parliamentarians in COPE should therefore be outrightly condemned because it is unethical, immoral and totally un-parliamentary. The activities of the Perpetual Treasuries before and after the alleged fraudulent auction had given rise to various speculations. If so, how could the Premier and his coterie in the COPE,as alleged give protection to Arjuna Mahendran?
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is alleged have failed to manage the country’s money and the credit system. The Central Bank is responsible to keep inflation under control. If there is massive corruption in the CBSL, how can they control inflation? If in case, culprits are not dealt with, won’t there be frauds in the CBSL in future too.
As we know, GOSL has borrowed funds locally for decades. These fiscal requirements had been obtained in the past through Treasury Bills as opposed to Treasury Bonds at present. Treasury bonds could extend up to periods more than even thirty years. In fact, TREASURY BONDS have to be sold in the open market in AUCTIONS THROUGH A COMPETITIVE BIDDING SYSTEM IN A TRANSPARENT MANNER. Didn’t Arjuna Mahendran fail to do so?
Let me draw your attention to an announcement made by the Ministry of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs, which is reproduced below – “The Government’s immediate need for cash to make payments for the bills in hand and to complete incomplete projects were to be met through the Treasury Bonds in March, 2015”. If so, how did they raise big monies at an interest rate of 12.5% in a rush having allegedly favoured Perpetual Treasuries? Why have they committed tax payers to pay high interest for long periods including the unborn? This is an inexcusable crime? How can UNP overlook this sort of financial crimes? Culprits should be firmly dealt with by the leaders.
Nevertheless, on the floor of the House, the Premier said the reports would be considered by the Parliament. Numerous reports tabled in Parliament to-date have been simply a waste of time and no action had been taken by the political leadership.
However, a strong committee system is an asset in any functioning democracy. The COPE has presently provided a forum to investigate into the alleged fraudulent Treasury Bond scam by enhancing the democratic process by taking the Parliament to the people and giving them a role in its operations. This would no doubt create a positive and beneficial impact on the Parliament and the process of government. Former Chairman COPE D.E.W. Gunasekera had proposed that a powerful Presidential Commission should be appointed to look into THE TREASURY BOND SCAM, using the powers vested in the President in terms of the law. If not, there is no doubt that this report too would be buried under the carpet. The UNP leadership however claims that it is the only party which is capable of building up a strong economy for the benefit of the people. Shouldn’t the Premier remember that the UNP is in power purely because of an un-easy alliance with the UPFA.
Premier Ranil should therefore not pretend to be deaf, blind and/or dumb in numerous cases of indiscipline, waste, inefficiency, and most importantly corruption under his nose? Citizens do not like inaction. Furthermore, the controversial statement, which was in fact an uncharacteristically angry outburst, by the President gives rise to speculation that the unstable coalition does no longer possess a people friendly agenda to fulfil their mandate.Corruption investigations may come to a grinding halt. Nagananda Kodituwakku, a lawyer of repute, has proved that an enormous amount in billions had been lost to the Treasury due to tax-free vehicle permits. Premier prior to the elections said the vehicle permit scheme would be abolished. It is unfortunate Premier has gone back on that the these promises. It also appears the PREMIER wants the public to think that UTOPIA is around the corner! The government does not seem to be keen to provide citizens the services including the most essential medicines in hospitals. The public transport system is in a total mess. Ordinary citizen for their convenience have opted to use motor cycles including women.
The risks they undergo therefore are unimaginable. There are motorcycle accidents daily causing fatalities, severe injuries etc. Why don’t they take steps to improve public transport? How can a government keep tightlipped on these burning problems? Why is that the Premier gives into pressure from the parliamentarians having disregarded the most essential requirements of the poor and ill-fated citizens in the country. Shouldn’t both the President and the Premier think that a resurgence of the MR regime is inevitable. The popularity of the Unity Government continues to wane owing to inexpert approach to day to day governance by the Unity government. The countrymen elected both the President and Premier to find solutions to the serious issues plaguing the country, namely, lack of accountability, fraud, corruption, abuse of power, nepotism, ethnic tension etc. Let me conclude by saying that the 2015 elections proved that any government could fail if it did not fulfil its obligations towards the voter. P a r l i a m e n t a r i a n Aluthgamage in Parliament cautioned that the time has come for the Première to abandon his confidante Arjuna Mahendran to save himself.
The incumbent President left his own party to contest as the common candidate and appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister after victory. Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena disclosed that, based on the outcome of the COPE report, President would forward the case for judicial review. Does that also mean the end of the political marriage with the UNP...? Guess. President could also appoint the former President as the next PM to win the crucial local polls. Remember, in politics, there are no permanent friends or foes. A veteran politician told me ‘anything is possible in Sri Lanka’. They have proved that they could go to bed even with the arch rival to gain political power. And for what? For their own political survival. Could we predict for sure another somersault for political expediency? If not, impending local polls could be disastrous for the President.
UNUTH EKAIMUNUTH EKAI! What a let-down for the poor voter!