- Says will appoint a commission chaired by a retired judge
- the matter was referred to COPE one year ago and no probe was conducted
By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
Admitting that there has been a scam in connection with the reversing of inferior quality organic fertilizer imported from China and making a payment of $ 6.7 million to the supplier, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said only a few officials were involved in it, according to initial investigations.
Responding to an oral question raised by MP Dayasiri Jayasekera in Parliament, Minister Amaraweera said the initial reports have revealed that no politician is involved in the scam.
“I have decided to appoint a commission chaired by a retired judge. The final appointment will be made shortly and the commission will be able to begin the probe soon,” the Minister said.
The Minister accepted that a payment of $ 6.7 million had been made to the supplying company, even though the stock was sent back. However, Mr. Jayasekera and others including Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said there is no point in appointing a commission. “The ulterior motive behind the appointment of a commission is to clear politicians and to put the blame on the officers. Besides, the matter was referred to COPE one year ago and no probe was conducted on it,” he said.
MP Jayasekera also said that many important probes have come to a standstill as a result of suspending COPE meetings while its chairman had gone missing. “We request that COPE be made active again as soon as possible.
Minister Amaraweera who responded said Parliament should advise on the steps that has to be taken concerning the scam. “Parliament should tell me what to do if appointing a commission to probe the scam is not effective,” he said.
Also, he said the Agriculture Ministry will not be able to take action against some officers involved in the scam as they are no longer attached to the ministry.