Good governance activist and former Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Chandra Jayaratne continued to pressure the Secretary of the Central Bank’s Monetary Board for information pertaining to the recent Treasury Bond issuance.
In a letter dated to the Secretary of the Monetary Board on 8th May 2016, Jayaratne while expressing his regret over the position taken by the Monetary Board to not provide information on the issuance, also highlighted that the Board’s position is inconsistent with the commitments towards assuring transparent good governance.
We publish below the letter in full;
8th May 2016.
By Registered Post
Monetary Board of Sri Lanka,
Central Bank of Sri Lanka,
Exercise of Right to Information in Terms of the Constitution of Sri Lanka and Pending Legislation on Right to Information
I refer to your letter of 6th May 2016, in response to my letter of 19th April 2016 in the above regard.
I regret very much the position taken by the Monetary Board and you, in your above mentioned letter. This position is inconsistent with the commitments towards assuring transparent good governance. It is further untenable, unjust, and narrow in its interpretation of the Constitution and the commitments of the government as embedded in the pending Right to Information Bill.
It appears that the Monetary Board and you have failed to take cognizance of the following, in denying the legitimate request for information;
- Which was made entirely in the public interest,
- which would have advanced the interests of the state, the citizens and the stakeholders investing in Treasury Bonds, including stakeholder of the Employees Provident Fund,
- not being confidential or restricted information, the release of which would not be prejudicial to the interests of the national economy,
- being information similar to that previously released by the Central Bank publicly, in respect of the Bond Issue of 27th February 2015
- being information similar to that submitted in support of a Fundamental Rights Application, presented before the Supreme Court challenging the 27th February 2015 Bond issue
- which would transparently show whether any malpractices or unacceptable practices to the detriment of the state and citizens had taken place
- which if duly complied would have sent the correct signals of the Government’s commitment to Good Governance based Right to Information, even before the relevant bill was passed.
I trust that the Monetary Board and you will once again duly consider as to “How the releasing of information about bonds that have already been issued ” can cause serious prejudice to the economy of Sri Lanka by disclosing prematurely decisions to change or continuing government economic or financial policies ..“?
I would however agree that the release of such information could lead to professional and public scrutiny and even possible consequential complaints to the authorities, if these transactions indicate any malpractices or possible loss to the state. In such an eventuality, consequential follow up investigations, may however seriously prejudice the interests of any persons who may have engaged in any such malpractices, causing a loss to the government and even become liable to prosecution.
I trust that the Monetary Board and you will once again take due recognition of the following;
- The Commitments of the Government to ensure Good Governance, through transparency, Right to Information, Upholding the Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Actions, (as articulated with emphasis by the President and the Prime Minister),
- The Indian Supreme Court Ruling in December 2015, noting that the banking regulator (RBI) cannot withhold information citing ‘fiduciary relations’ under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and stating “The RBI as a Watch Dog should have been more dedicated towards disclosing information to the general public under the Right to Information Act”,
- The policy commitments of the government in regard to open government partnership
- Commitments likely to arise from the Anti-Corruption Summit to be held next week to step up global action to expose, punish and drive out corruption in all walks of life, where world leaders (including the President of Sri Lanka), business and civil society will agree a package of steps to:
- expose corruption so there is nowhere to hide
- punish the perpetrators and support those affected by corruption
- drive out the culture of corruption wherever it exists
- and reconsider the position as articulated in the letter of 6th May 2016.
CC. The President
Minister of Finance
Speaker of Parliament
Minister of Justice and Law Reform
Minister of Mass Media & Information
The Governor Central Bank
The Members of the Monetary Board