The Joint Opposition today said it has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the Finance Minister over allegedly misusing public funds to publish newspaper advertisements on fuel prices which contained ‘false’ facts.
JO MP Bandula Gunawardana said the motive of these advertisements, which were focused on fuel prices and pricing formula, was to sling mud at former President Mahinda Rajapaksa through the State media.
“We have nothing against a ministry publishing newspaper advertisements. However, misusing public funds to publish bogus information through the State media to sling mud at individuals cannot be condoned,” he told a news briefing.
He said the advertisements by the Finance Ministry have said that the price of a crude oil barrel was 60 USD during the Rajapaksa regime and a litre of petrol was sold at a price of Rs.157.
“These facts are false. The price of a crude oil barrel was 104 USD during the said time and a litre of petrol was sold for Rs.150,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said they were also mulling legal action over a gazette issued by the Finance Ministry ordering the Customs Department to remove Customs duty of a number of imported items, without the approval of the Cabinet.
He said the gazette has been issued on July 19 in relation with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed with Singapore.
“This gazette instructs the Customs to remove taxes on a variety of products and items ranging from animal sperms to hair dryers. Minister Lakshman Kiriella recently asked what knowledge medical doctors have about the FTA. We would like to ask what knowledge Minister Kiriella has about this gazette,” Mr. Gunawardana said. (Lahiru Pothmulla)