Revelations by Sabry, Nandalal quoted; The CIABOC responsible for investigating
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been named the first to respond in a fundamental rights case filed by Dr Athula Kumara Samarakoon of the Open University, Sri Lanka, Soosaiappu Neavis Morais and Dr Mahim Mendis, in relation to bad policies that led to the current economic collapse. The application filed under Articles 17 and 126 of the Constitution named the entire Cabinet of Ministers including former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa and Ali Sabry, PC. Others named include former Presidential Secretary Dr PB Jayasundera, former CBSL Governors Prof WD Lakshman and Ajith Nivard Cabraal and former Treasury Secretary SR Attygalle.
Members of the CIABOC (Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Bribery or Corruption) were also implicated; the petitioners have in a letter, called on members of CIABOC to investigate the mismanagement of the economy by former members of the Monetaire in violation of Section 70 of the Corruption Act as well as by Mahinda lawmakers Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa. The petition cited the controversial decision to cut a series of taxes in line with SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s manifesto titled “Vistas of Prosperity” as one of the main causes of the current crisis.
The petitioners stated that in April 2022, the price of essential goods increased from the previous year as follows: (a) The price of gasoline increased by 85%; (b) The price of diesel increased by 69%; (c) The price of a bottle of liquefied petroleum gas increased by 84%; (d) The price of turmeric increased by 443%; (e) The price of bread has increased by 433%; (f) The price of rice has increased by 93%; and (g) The price of the dhal had increased by 171%
The petitioners presented the statement of the incumbent governor of the CBSL, Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, before the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) on May 25 in support of their argument. Dr Weerasinghe reportedly told COPE that the government lacked foreign currency reserves to pay off its foreign debt or buy essential imports, and that help from the International Monetary Fund and foreign countries was needed.
The petitioners also quoted statements made by former finance minister Sabry to highlight the crisis created by what they call the bad policies of the government of the day. They cited President Rajapaksa’s unilateral decision to ban the use of chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals as another reason for the crisis. Issues such as the government’s use of foreign exchange reserves to prevent the depreciation of the rupee have also been raised by the petitioners. Statements made by Dr. Ranee Jayamaha and Sanjeeva Jayawardena PC, two appointed members of the Monetary Board, before COPE were also cited in support of the petition. They were quoted as saying they received instructions to use the dollar reserves to hold the rupee in rupees. 203 despite their strong objections (SF)