Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, Patali Champika Ranawaka in an interview revealed that there was what he called “large scale misappropriation of state money” referring to the controversial and much talked about Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Treasury bonds incident. He also spoke at length on MP Athuraliye Rathana going independent, new Constitutional reforms and several other political topics.
Q: There appears to be a clash of opinions within the government in relation to the bonds incident. How do you see the incident?
There has very clearly been a large scale misappropriation of State monies. There is no doubt about this. In 2014, during the time of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s rule, the total assets of the company Perpetual Treasuries (PT) owned by Arjun Aloysius and his folk was Rs 310 million. The business by September 30, 2016 within one and a half years becomes a company with assets totaling Rs 24,000 million (Rs. 20.4 billion). The profit earned during the period is Rs 12,899 million (Rs. 10.2 billion)
Except for the leading banks including the Bank of Ceylon (BOC), no other bank has earned this much. This is why in Parliament I narrated the Jataka tale involving Chuula Sitano (a nobleman called Chuula) who became rich after obtaining the carcass of a mouse. It was without even having the carcass of a mouse that they pulled off this game. This is a daylight robbery. They took money from the BOC and the Central Bank and bought Government bonds at a low price and sold it to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which is a State institution and made a profit. They have obtained the support of officers of the BOC, the Central Bank (CB) and the EPF in doing so. On the other hand, information provided by leading Ministries of the government had been leaked via the Public Debt Department of the CB. It must be looked into whether the leak was from the Ministry of Finance or the said department. Therefore, this incident is proven on the basis of certain facts. Thus far, there have been two investigations into this matter.
Previously, the Government had a policy of protecting these persons. But today, the Cabinet is clearly in one position. This is that the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party need to sign the Committee on Public Enterprises report. The government has no right to commit such a robbery. People voted against Rajapaksa for the primary reason of curtailing corruption. Are people like Aloysius worth being protected by the UNP while risking the Party’s enormous vote base? This incident costs the Party the majority. Every UNP member must think about this aspect. As of today, this massive wealth is being used to obtain banks, financial companies and the power of the media industry. They have also entered the ethanol business in a big way. They maintain large vats. They are constructing super luxury housing apartment complexes. We can see these. The company that has earned the most profit next to PT has earned only Rs 57 million. It will take 200 years for this company to earn the profit PT made. This in itself is proof of what kind of game this was. In actuality, this wealth should have gone to the CB. The people must stand up against PT and its processes and operations which are depleting the Treasury and forming a perpetual treasury. This wealth must be taken back. All must be punished without consideration for their status. Without doing so, there is no right to talk about Rajapaksa’s fraud and corruption.
Q: A societal discourse has emerged regarding the new Constitution. Do we really need Constitutional reforms now?
This Constitution has been amended 19 times. If a new Constitution which aids the journey of the country can be formulated, then it is good. Also, it must be prepared with an overall consensus. This should not take place in a manner which builds up the image of various political parties involved. There is no right and need to change provisions concerning the unitary nature of the State, national security and Buddhism, in a manner which brings the country to disrepute. There should not be an issue regarding national security. We have created intellectual councils and boards concerning national security.
Q: Amid talk of the country being on the verge of possibly being given Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), there was a proposal regarding homosexuality too that came up. How do you see this matter?
The European Union (EU) gave the GSP+ to us to get out of the havoc wreaked by the tsunami. This kind of fantasy world proposed does not come out of the GSP. Also, today, the EU is unstable. We don’t need to obtain GSP based on conditions. Now, this country is a free country. Homosexual status too has been tolerated by the people of this country. During the time of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga too such a bill was presented. These people engaged in various activities in society. Yet, no one is arrested. Yet, what are they trying to do now? Now they are asking for a constitutional right which extends to gay marriage. It is not just this country but the Catholic church of Europe too that is not in favour of this at all. Our country has a historical context. There is a culture. One cannot act exceeding that. I really don’t think that these are things that the EU has said. It is the ideologies that are inside the heads of members of committees that are put out like this.
Q: MP Rathana stated that politically he would act independently. At one time, he was your closest friend?
We, as the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) have already released a statement regarding this. Rathana can act independently. We have no problem with it. However, the MP’s seat he is occupying came to the JHU. It belongs to the JHU. He can give it back to the JHU and do whatever he wants. We have no issue with him doing whatever he wishes.