Amidst allegations that the UNP MPs in the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) were attempting to safeguard ex-Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran, Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera today flatly denied the allegations, while assuring that Mahendran’s role in the alleged Treasury Bond scandal will be taken up for discussion on Thursday during the COPE meeting.
“This is 100% wrong. We are not safeguarding him,” Perera told the Colombo Telegraph.
When questioned as to why during Monday’s meeting action was only recommended against Mahendran’s son-in-law Arjun Aloysius and not against Mahendran, Perera said, “We are taking issue by issue. On Monday, we discussed the issue in relation to Perpetual Treasuries, and during Thursday’s meeting we will discuss Arjuna Mahendran’s role.”
Ajith P Perera – Photo via Facebook Ajith P Perera
Perera also said that there was a strong likelihood that the UNP report will be finalized as the final report to be presented to Parliament instead of the report that was signed by COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti last week. “Ours is a better report, in comparison to the other report,” Perera said.
In his report, Handunneththi had ruled that Mahendran was directly responsible for the 2015 and 2016 Treasury Bond scams, which resulted in the country losing Rs. 1.6 billion. Handunnetti had also called for action against Mahendran, as well as recommended an investigation against Perpetual Treasuries Limited, for recording a profit of Rs. 5.1 billion for the year that ended March 2016.
On Monday, an angry Handunneththi walked out of a COPE meeting in protest against the UNP MPs after them of working in a manner to protect Mahendran and also accusing the UNP MPs in COPE of trying to intimidate the Auditor General after he made a statement implicating Mahendran in the bond scam.
During Monday’s meeting, the UNP MPs had ruled that Aloysius and other directors at Perpetual Treasuries were responsible for the controversial bond scam at Central Bank.
However, a political source pointed out that before focusing on Perpetual Treasuries, the UNP MPs should have first focused on Mahendran and then followed up on Aloysius and Perpetual Treasuries. “Perpetual Treasuries received an undue advantage from Central Bank, and that is Mahendran’s doing, so ideally, they should have focused on Mahendran before focusing on his son-in-law,” he said.
Meanwhile, good governance activist Chandra Jayaratne today questioned the Speaker and Members of Parliament if they were bound by the directions of the party whip, the party and its leader’s directions and desires, or instead should they exercise their rights as a member of Parliament bound by their conscience and the social contract they have with the voters.
“Please reflect for a moment on the Oath of Office you took in entering Parliament as a member. You swore to uphold the Constitution of Sri Lanka on that occasion. You are aware that by article 3 of the Constitution, the sovereignty is vested in the People and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise. You are thus duty bound as persons elected by the exercise of the people’s franchise, to function as members of Parliament and safeguard the inalienable sovereignty of the people; govern safeguarding the primary interests of the nation and its people; and safeguard the fundamental rights of the people. This is a supplemented by the social Contract you have entered in to with the people upon your election,” Jayaratne reminded in his open appeal. ( By Munza Mushtaq )