Cabraal: Bond Commission report not the source

Rs. 4,000 bn loss

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Dismissing a government claim that the state had suffered a loss up to Rs. 4,000 billion due to irregularities in the bond market during his tenure as Governor of the Central Bank, Ajith Nivard Cabraal yesterday said the present administration was using a tentative assertion by the Bond Commission to sling mud at him.

Addressing the media at Colombo Ramada, Cabraal said that if there been irregularities during his tenure he would take the full responsibility.

A smiling Cabraal said some people were propagating lies, using a bond commission recommendation that ‘an appropriate investigation be carried out to ascertain whether there were significant irregularities in the acceptance of the direct placements by the public debt department during 2008 to 2014 period. He said the commission had not estimated losses. In fact, the commission has acknowledged that a forensic audit would be appropriate to calculate the losses, if any, that could may been incurred by the government as a result of such irregularities, Cabraal said.

The recommendation that actually dealt with the issuance of treasury bonds during the previous administration very clearly negated claim that losses amounted to Rs 4,000 bn, Cabraal said.

Cabraal said that though the bond commission had confidently declared it had adequate evidence to believe that there was a likelihood of ‘some irregularities’ had taken place during the Rajapaksa administration, no specific accusation had been made.

Responding to a query, Cabraal said that it would be interesting to know whether the Bond Commission had taken into consideration Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe’s report that dealt with the period at issue in terms of the Monetary Law Act. Displaying a copy of Wijesinghe’s report, Cabraal said that Wijesinghe’s findings available online on the department website could be quite useful to those who wanted to know the truth.

Cabraal challenged the government to explain the basis on which it had reached the much touted conclusion that losses amounting to Rs. 4,000 bn had been caused.

Former Chairman of the Colombo Stock Exchange Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said that in spite of directing allegations at him over irregularities at the CSE, his successor (Dr. Tilak Karunaratne) hadn’t been able to ascertain any evidence against him. Godahewa said so when a journalist sought an explanation regarding allegations against him during his three-year tenure.

Godahewa said his successor had had three long years to conduct a thorough investigation. The yahapalana administration had ruined the CSE beyond redemption, he added.

Godahewa pointed out that both the Central Bank and the CSE had been under Prime Minister and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s care and it was in a hopeless situation today.

When Cabraal strongly criticized Premier Wickremesinghe’s conduct at the Bond Commission as well as him being given special treatment, the media asked him whether he felt the same way about the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa acting with contempt at the Mount Lavinia Magistrate Court. When it was pointed out that a statement made by Rajapaksa when the MiG case was taken up was not acceptable. Cabraal said that he wouldn’t hesitate to comment if specific statement could be referred to him by the media. The former CBSL Governor asked whether the media accepted the Premier’s statement to the Bond Commission that he was answerable only to Parliament.

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