CP leader accuses Ranil of attempting to save CB Governor

Demands Presidential Commission to probe Mahendran


by Dasun Edirisinghe

Former Minister and ex-Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) D. E. W. Gunasekera yesterday accused Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of being behind the attempts to protect Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and to extend his term which was scheduled to expire on June 30.

Addressing the Joint Opposition's weekly media briefing at Dr. N. M. Perera Centre at Borella, the Communist Party leader, demanded a special presidential commission to investigate the alleged wrongdoings of Mahendran.

Gunasekera said that usually the Central Bank came under the purview of the Finance Ministry, but it now functioned under Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. Therefore, his appointment was also a problem.

He said previous governments had drawn loans from the EPF, BoC, NSB or People's Bank after issuing bonds, but under the present CB Governor’s watch they loans had been taken from 21 private companies at high interest rates of 14%.

President Maithripala Sirisena should order an investigation into the conduct of the Central Bank Governor Mahendran, Gunasekera said.

Leader of the Joint Opposition Dinesh Gunawardena said giants such as N. U. Jayawardena and Dr. Neville Karunathilake had resigned as Central Bank Governors respecting the tradition, but Mahendran was still in the post in spite of serious allegations against him.

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said General Secretary of the UPFA and Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera had moved the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) against CB Governor Mahendran last year, but CIABOC had not taken any action so far.

Colombo District MP Bandula Gunawardena said not only the MPs in the Joint Opposition but also government ministers wanted Mahendran removed.

Participating in the debate on no-faith motion against Finance Minister in Parliament last week, ministers Mahinda Amaraweera and S. B. Dissanayake had justified the removal of Mahendran, Gunawardena said, adding State Minister Mohan Lal Grero and Deputy Minister Manusha Nanayakkara, too, had raised their voices against Mahendran.

"Only the UNP wants to extend Mahendran's term as CB governor," Gunawardena said, adding that Minister of Highways and Higher Education Lakshman Kiriella had announced it at a recent media conference.

Former Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana said the country was currently experiencing an economic crisis as in 2008 and the Central Bank was responsible for it.

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