President Maithripala Sirisena stopped the printing of the gazette notification transferring the Central Bank from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera a short while ago, following a Colombo Telegraph exposé of the same.
While sources from the Government Printer confirmed that the gazette notification had been sent although the green light to print had not yet been given, President’s Secretary Austin Fernando confirmed to Colombo Telegraph that ‘the gazette notification had been prepared’.
Colombo Telegraph learns that upon hearing of the impending transfer of the institution, Wickremesinghe had gone with right-hand man Malik Samarawickrama to discuss the matter with Sirisena. Despite the heated argument that had taken place between then, the President had gone ahead with the decision.
Subsequent to the Colombo Telegraph story being published it has been decided to postpone this shift until a vote is taken on No-Confidence Motion on Wickremesinghe on April 4th.
All this comes against the backdrop of a no-confidence motion against Wickremesinghe where Sirisena, as the leader of the SLFP is yet to show his hand.
Meanwhile a Central Bank official who wished to remain anonymous told Colombo Telegraph that all this transpired because the Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy was under considerable stress. He revealed also that Dr Harsha De Silva, contravening established procedure, had summoned the Monetary Board to his ministry and asked the Board ‘to implement ICTA’s shoddy payment gateway’.
‘The normal protocol is for the Minister, and not the State Minister, to send any proposal in writing to Monetary Board. Summoning Board members who are independent persons and issuing verbal instructions is totally uncalled for. I don’t know why Board members obliged to his demand,’ he said.
The official acknowledged that the President ought to have consulted the Prime Minister on this matter of placing the Central Bank under a different minister, but opined that he (Sirisena) ‘did not have choice because he was under compulsion.’
According to him, the President did this ‘because Harsha overstepped his authority on instructions by his boss.’