Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy, United National Party (UNP) MP Ajith P. Perera spoke to Rivira group on the current political developments in the country.
Following are excerpts:
Q : As a member of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), what is your stance regarding the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Treasury bonds issue?
A : A fraud has occurred. The Perpetual Treasuries company along with those who helped such as the former Governor of the CBSL and outsiders are involved. My position and the position of the COPE, which is documented in the COPE report, is that a criminal investigation should be commenced in this regard. Also, the Employees Provident Fund has been misused. Therefore, legal action must be taken against the Perpetual Treasuries, the persons affiliated to it, and all those who supported this fraud.
Q : If powerful members of the government have committed wrongs, are you ready to remove them?
A : Definitely. If evidence is revealed regarding such, even if it is a minister or any other person or an official, all must be removed.
Q : If we take the incident involving incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Finance, Ravi Karunanayake, even before allegations in this regard were levelled against him, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which represents this government entered into a massive course of action against him. Why are your own MPs and ministers representing the government receiving such responses?
A : They have some reason in order to talk like that. It is not like they are talking without any reason. After Karunanayake is given an opportunity to explain his side, and after his explanation is made, the President and the Prime Minister must take the required decision.
Q : The Hambantota Port and the Mahailluppallama Seed Farm have been leased. Major allegations such as that the country’s lands are being sold by the thousands (of acres), that resources constructed during the era of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa are being sold and that the Mattala Airport is next, are levelled at the Government. Why is the Government going for the 99 years lease instead of a lease of 33 years?
A : No. These are lies. We challenge those who allege such to prove such if they can. It is those who do not understand the difference between a sale, a lease and a joint business partnership agreement who talk like this. These are not synonymous terms. This is entirely wrong. Nothing has been sold or leased. The reality of a joint business partnership agreement must be understood. A joint partnership business agreement has been signed between the Ports Authority and the China Merchants Port Holdings regarding the management of the Hambantota port. Also the ports in Oluvil, Trincomalee, Colombo and Kankesanthurai, and the Galle Harbour will not be affected by this. Business folk and business companies which invest millions and billions in businesses are interested in the secure nature of their investments. The administration of the very famous Darwin Port in Australia was given to a Chinese company after entering into a similar agreement for 99 years.
Generally, when a massive investment is made, in this case on something like a port, the investor has long term expectations. What is important is that we as a country cannot find the money to make the required large investment. Not just us but the agreements entered into show that even Australia is faced with the same predicament.
Therefore, views pertaining to whether such could be given for 33 years and why such is being given for 99 years are the ideas of those who have no understanding of business knowhow or experience and of the realities of economic science.