Govt’s decisions on Treasury Bond scam, meaningful | Sunday Observer

Govt’s decisions on Treasury Bond scam, meaningful

Commencing the Adjournment Debate on the Bond Commission report and Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC), Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe placed a matter of national importance before the House asking all political parties represented in Parliament whether they would support to amend Section 81 of the Constitution to deprive the civic rights of persons found guilty of serious crimes.

However, both the JVP and SLFP members who joined in the debate stated, they would not back any move to strip any Member of Parliament of his or her civic rights. Participating in the Adjournment debate, Chief Opposition Whip, Anura Kumara Dissanayake said, the Government can do better by introducing new laws barring those found guilty of corruption becoming MPs, and added that the JVP would support passing such laws to ensure that Parliament is free of corrupt politicians.

However, he said they wouldn’t be a cat’s paw in anyone’s hands and his party would not support political witch hunts such as depriving former President Mahinda Rajapaksa or anyone else of his or her civic rights.

The JVP Leader pointed out that Parliament is not a place where cases can be heard and punishments imposed, though this Parliament has a history of doing so.

Citing an example, he pointed out how the former Rajapaksa Government brought Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake to Parliament and heard a case against her and removed her from the job. Dissanayake said they don’t need to see repetitions of such games.

He said there is a big debate in the country on the Bond scam which has caused a serious impact on the lives of the people but it was not discussed as expected.

During the last General Election campaign, a big hue and cry was made about the frauds and corruption perpetrated by the previous Government. However, rather than bringing the culprits to book, the new Government attempts to defend them.

The Treasury bond scam is the hallmark of these frauds. MP Dissanayake said, the decisions taken by the Government on the Treasury bond scam are meaningful.

Following the request made by Party leaders, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe requested the Speaker to convene Parliament on February 6 to have an Adjournment Debate to discuss the Bond Commission report and the PRECIFAC paving the way for both Government and the Opposition members to air their views, particularly, on the Treasury bond issue.

The Government displaying its sincere commitment to uphold the dignity and decorum of the House agreed to allocate two more days, February 20 and 21, as requested by Party leaders.

Responding to the queries raised in and outside the Chamber on the controversial Treasury Bond issue, the Prime Minister told the House that action has already been taken on the Treasury Bond issuance and statements were obtained and some suspects produced before Court and are in custody at present.

Debate

However, the Premier noted, actions against those mentioned in the PRECIFAC is pending and added that some of them are also members of this House. The Prime Minister also said, the Attorney General has conveyed to him the action taken on the COPE report.

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister, Mahinda Amaraweera said, the SLFP would not endorse moves to deprive anyone of his or her civic rights, pointing out that the late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandanaike was stripped of her civic rights unfairly so that they don’t want anyone else deprived of his or her civic rights and that wrongdoers can be appropriately dealt with by the Judiciary.

Refuting claims, Minister Amaraweera said, the Presidential Commission on the bond issue was not appointed to target the UNP though many UNPers have said the Bond Commission was appointed to target them.

The Commission report has stated that scams had taken place from 2008. The Minister said, publishing the Presidential Commission reports was not a political drama and the

Presidential Commission

appointed to look into Srilankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka would deal with those responsible for ruining the national carrier regardless of their political affiliations.

State Minister of Finance Eran Wickremaratne said, what is more important is to punish wrongdoers rather than debating it.

Crooks are everywhere including political parties. Now the people can see that the Presidential Commission reports are published. We would like to ask whether any Minister was arrested or even questioned during the tenure of the former regime.

Three Ministers of the incumbent Government have been removed from their portfolios until investigations are completed.

The arrests are not a drama to hoodwink the people. Today, there are no allegations against this Government on murders while the independence of the Judiciary is well assured. Everybody can witness that a change is being made in the country.

footnotes

Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy, Ajith P. Perera joining the debate said, the Presidential Commission has endorsed that their are accurate and legal. We didn’t say a fraud has not been committed in the Treasury bond issue. What we said was to catch the crooks in the correct manner.

The UNP thanks the President for appointing the Presidential Commission as it has cleared the Prime Minister and the party in the bond scam issue.

corruption

UNP Colombo District MP Ravi Karunanayake said, today, those who didn’t even know how many zeros are there in a million or billion are talking about losses in the bond issue. He said, the bond issue is not an issue of the previous Government or this one, but has become a culture in this country. Karunanayake explained how the bond issue had affected him as a Parliamentarian.

Joining the debate, UPFA Colombo District MP Bandula Gunawardena pointed out it is not ethical for any Minister or MP to attack or slander any national hero using parliamentary privileges.

At present, a new trend of attacking national heroes has emerged. MP Gunawardena said the heroes who saved our country from separatist terrorists, intelligence officers and those who gave leadership to this battle are being pursued and attacked.

He said this is not something to be amused because about 100 years ago national heroes such as Anagarika Dharmapala and Henry Pedris too were persecuted.

It was the leaders of the previous regime that took up the challenge bravely to eradicate terrorism. Unfortunately, we live in a country where such people are attacked in the lowest possible manner. 

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