Vasudeva Nanayakkara is well known for his fire brand politics and has been unashamed in his outspokenness. His plan was to address parliament and ensure that certain matters were entered (at least for posterity’s sake) into the Hansard by placing it before parliament.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara was clear in what he wished to do. He wanted various matters brought before the House. These matters had shown zero progress in the various courts. Mr. Nanayakkara for instance has instituted cases of national interest where he was a co-litigant and found to his lasting dismay that ‘nothing has been done’ about it.
For instance he has been a co-litigant on the matter of the privatization of Sri Lanka Insurance. Mr. Nanayakkara is concerned that no action has been initiated in terms of a potential charge of perjury. On other cases he named the Prime Minister and the Speaker as being respondents in cases he has initiated himself.
In terms of the largest scam to have affected our country, the by now infamous ‘Bond Scam’ Mr. Nanayakkara wished to table a report or explanation of the scam authored by the former Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal.
Some websites and this newspaper have carried that report in full. It is highly critical of the role of Ranil Wickremesinghe who was during the currency of that scam the Minister in charge of the Central Bank. Many wonder why the Prime Minister was adamant on preventing or objecting to the inclusion of that report within the House and thus into the Hansard.
Mr. Wickremesinghe maintains that the Bond Report absolves him. The Commission is not the final authority on the accountability and responsibility process of the Bond Scam. That must be left to a court of law – however it is time that the kid glove treatment and thus the cover up of those who masterminded the plot come to an immediate end. It is time to be transparent and hold all those who are responsible accountable to the full extent the law permits.
That the English language is quaint is a given. In the quaintest possible terms the Commission report states, ‘there is no evidence that the Prime Minister asked Mr. Mahendran to break the law’ in terms of changing the system of issuance of Bonds.
Many including Mr. Cabraal maintain that the scam became possible only because a tried and tested system of issuing bonds (put in place by the late A S Jayawardena in 1997) was changed at the insistence of the Prime Minister. The Auditor General of Sri Lanka concurs with this view saying that the 1997 system was the ‘least cost methodology of raising money for the nation’. The proof of the pudding is that the Central Bank has returned to a system that is closer to the ‘original’ 1997 methodology than anything else. Admittedly, the CBSL has a ‘new system’ but the practice is the same as envisioned in 1997 and which even in 2018 the Auditor General of the country agrees that, the 1997 system is indeed the least cost methodology of raising funds whilst taking care of any attempt to fix rates in the event brokers conspire to fix the rates.
The fundamental premise of the 1997 system was that the CBSL was able to rely on an average of the offers made by brokers (primary dealers). If that average too was too high for the CBSL they would merely ignore that auction and move on to another date and another time.
The Presidential Commission noted that the Prime Minister ‘would have been better advised, if he had independently verified what had happened at the CBSL on 27th February 2015, before making any statement, instead of relying on the Briefing Note and report submitted to him by Mr. Mahendran and Deputy Governor Samarasiri’.
This can be construed that the Prime Minister acted mala-fide in the interests of Perpetual Treasuries as it is clearly a failing on the part of a public officer who has taken an oath of office to protect the public and national assets.
In a different era perhaps in the ages of the Kings and Queens, Wickremesinghe’s actions may have been acceptable if he had been the Monarch and relied on Messer’s Mahendran and Samarasiri.
However the action he could have taken in that age would have been to hang, draw and quarter the accused – Mahendran and Samarasiri.
However in this day and age of democracy and transparency the Prime Minister should ideally be charged before a court of law or at the very least aiding and abetting this crime against the people. In any event the Prime Minister must at least at this late stage be true and honourable to the democratic principles he himself espouses and tender his resignation forthwith.
Sri Lanka will be a better place altogether. And the Treasury will be richer by at least Rs 25,000,000,000.