UNP-SLFP coalition hinges on bond scam probe outcome – Yapa

‘No point in remaining if UNP doesn’t take action against culprits’


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The future of the SLFP, UNP coalition hinged on the outcome of the ongoing Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the Central Bank bond scams that had allegedly been perpetrated in Jan 2015 and March 2016, Enterprises Development State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, MP, told Sirasa Pathikada programme hosted by Bandula Jayasekera yesterday.

The Presidential Commission began its sittings in January.

Saying that the SLFP decision would be certainly influenced by the Presidential Commission report, State Minister Abeywardena said the SLFP Central Committee would make a final decision.

Asked whether the SLFP would be agreeable to extend the coalition with the UNP in case the Presidential Commission had found fault with former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and the UNP for complicity, State Minister Abeywardena said the SLFP expected its partner to act on the Presidential Commission findings.

State Minister Abeywardena emphasised that the SLFP was ready to quit the coalition immediately if the party’s Central Committee made a decision to that effect.

"There is no point in remaining in the government if the UNP didn’t agree to punish those responsible in accordance with the Presidential Commission’s findings."

Secretary to the Presidential Commission Sumathipala Udugamasuriya recently told The Island that the report would be handed over as scheduled to President Sirisena in late July.

The Joint Council comprising members of the UNP and the SLFP is expected to discuss the renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached in Aug 2015. The JC comprises (UNP) Kabir Hashim, Mangala Samaraweera, Malik Samarawickrema, Harin Fernando, Ravi Karunanayake, Ravindra Samaraweera and Thalatha Atukorale and (SLFP) Mahinda Amaraweera, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, S.B.Dissanayake, Lasantha Alagiyawanne.

State Minister Abeywardena described the appointment of the Presidential Commission as a tough decision taken by President Sirisena.

According to Minister Abeywardena, the appointment of the Presidential Commission had been recommended by an SLFP committee and there were some recommendations not yet revealed by the party.

State Minister Abeywardena said that the SLFP had appointed the Presidential Commission of Inquiry instead of a Special Presidential Commission as the recommendations/findings made by the former weren’t required to be subject to police investigations. The Attorney General could immediately act on Presidential Commission hence the decision on the procedure, State Minister Abeywardena said.

State Minister Abeywardena pointed out that in the wake shocking revelations made at the Presidential Commission, ministers had conveniently remained silent on the bond scams.

The Central Bank, Perpetual Treasuries, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) as well as some banks are under investigation.

State Minister Abeywardena said that the public believed the bond scam had caused massive losses to the state was a robbery.

The appointment of the committee prevented propagation of various theories, the State Minister said.

President Sirisena intervened following widespread criticism of the government appointing a three-member panel to inquire into the alleged scam. President Sirisena thwarted Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) presenting its report on bond scams by dissolving parliament in 2015. The President’s move drew strong criticism from the Joint Opposition comprising rebel UPFA members loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In addition to the Presidential Commission, on a directive of President Sirisena, SLFP General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake has lodged a complaint with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) in early 2015 regarding alleged bond scams.

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