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Cabraal to get cabinet-status and privileges, pension in limbo




President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would soon elevate the ranking of the Central Bank Governor to be on par with a cabinet minister, Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal said at the ‘Salakuna’ talk show telecast by Hiru TV recently.

When presenter Chamuditha Samarawickrame asked if this has not been done yet, Cabraal replied, “No, It will be done soon.”

“The issue here is: where really is the Central Bank Governor positioned in terms of precedence? In the near future it will be equated to that of a cabinet minister together with privileges attached and I would be given that rank,” he said.

When the program presenters pointed out that the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, MP Sagara Kariyawasam had stressed that cabinet rank/ status would not be given to the Central Bank Governor, Cabraal responded: “He said so before I insisted on that. Not after.”

“The post of Central Bank Governor has to be in some order of precedence. At one time the Governor was on par with a cabinet minister. It was later changed for some reason and the president would act to re-establish its previous status,” he said.

However, he said that the elevated Governor’s position would not entail the powers of a cabinet minister and would only be placed on an equally important level.

“Given the current internal and external economic volatility and pressures, President Rajapaksa insisted on my assuming that responsibility. I was functioning as a state minister and performing my duties with great satisfaction; but if the country needs my services again as CB Governor, I would fulfill those duties with equal enthusiasm.

“The President would have thought that with my past experience and performance at the Central Bank, I would be able to help bring economic and price stability and enable growth through proper policy advocacy,” he said.

In response to a question which has become a political hot potato, the Governor said that he was not getting a pension as he is working at the Central Bank again.

“When I first assumed the post at the Central Bank in 2006, I didn’t think of a pension. Nor did I worry about my salary. I didn’t get a duty-free vehicle either because I had those things. I worked for a salary of Rs. 70,000 per month. Can you imagine a chartered accountant with a 33-year experience in top management roles in leading organizations working for a mere Rs. 70,000?,” he asked.

“In fact, I applied for pension four years after I left the office of Governor in January 2015. Any other person would have done so the following day. Former Governor Coomaraswamy informed me that the request would be taken up with the then President’s Secretary and after some time I got a letter of rejection.

“I just left the matter there without making any noise about it. Last Governor Prof. W.D. Lakshman would have acted on a pension scheme and I saw in the newspapers that a pension would be paid. If the President’s Secretary has approved a pension, I can take it. I thought I should get what I am entitled to.

“Governor Lakshman worked at the Central Bank for two years and when he gets a pension, others also should get it. I worked at the Bank for nine years. He can’t be paid without my being paid,” he said.

During Prof. W.D. Lakshman’s tenure as Governor from November 2019 to September 2021, the Monetary Board approved pensions with arrears for several former governors including Cabraal irrespective of the lengths of their tenure.

Under the new scheme, all Governors will be eligible for pensions regardless of their service periods, despite other public sector employees requiring at least 10 years of service to qualify for a pension. The only exceptions are Members of Parliament who get a pension after five years.

According to media reports at the time, the Monetary Board’s decision followed requests from the then State Minister of Finance, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal.

However, Cabraal told Hiru TV that he had asked for it just once.

When asked if former governor Arjuna Mahendran would also be entitled to a pension, he said “If there is a disciplinary inquiry against someone and if there is suspicion, there is room for his pension not to be paid.”

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Abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony to achieve spiritual and worldly success – President




President Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his Hajj message emphasizes that to achieve spiritual and worldly success, individuals must abandon selfishness and embrace a life of sacrifice and harmony. It is with this noble aim in mind that Muslims celebrate the Hajj festival each year.

On this occasion, Muslims from around the globe gather at a single place of worship, united in purpose, to pray for communal values that embody the hope of humanity. The Hajj celebration fosters feelings of equality and brotherhood among all people, delivering a profound message for world peace.

I extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire Muslim community in Sri Lanka and around the world for a meaningful Hajj celebration, where everyone comes together to fulfill the aspirations of humanity.

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Justice Minister goes ahead with SLFP election campaign



… attends Karandeniya meeting with MS

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who calls himself the SLFP’s presidential candidate, launched the SLFP’s election campaign yesterday (16) in spite of restraining orders the Colombo District Court has issued against him and former SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena.

Minister Rajapakshe attended the SLFP meeting at Karandeniya, the main meeting of the Galle District. Former President Sirisena was also present at the meeting organised by former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin de Vas Gunawardena.

Restrictions imposed on Sirisena and Rajapakshe are effective until June 19 and June 25, respectively.

The Election Commission on May 09 announced by virtue of the powers vested in the Commission to fix the date for the Presidential Election, it will hold the Presidential Election between 17 September and 16 October 2024.

The group headed by Sirisena decided to go ahead with the campaign, especially in the wake of the other section forming an alliance with a group of SLPP rebels to back Ranil Wickremesinghe’s candidature at the forthcoming Presidential Poll. However, Sirisena and Minister Rajapakshe, both elected to Parliament on the SLPP ticket, couldn’t represent the party, in any capacity, sources say.

Meanwhile, Chief Government Whip Urban Development and Housing Minister Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday (16) disclosed that the ruling SLPP wouldn’t field a candidate of its own and would throw its weight behind a candidate in the fray instead.

When he was asked, after a meeting in Minuwangoda, whether the SLPP would field a presidential candidate, Minister Ranatunga said it would support a candidate in the fray. Minister Ranatunga reiterated that the incumbent President was the best to lead the country therefore he believed he should be supported. The Minister said that the support would grow for Wickremesinghe after he officially declared his candidature.

Minister Ranatunga said that though he didn’t like Wickremesinghe the current crisis had compelled him to back him.

Another Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchci, widely believed to be a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, declared on Saturday (15) though the SLPP and President Wickremesinghe differed on policy for the sake of the country such differences had to be sunk. Wanniarachchi said so in Embilipitiya.

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NMSJ calls for proper use of IMF funds



Karu Jayasuriya

Former Speaker and the National Movement of Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairperson Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday stressed the critical importance of effectively utilising the third tranche of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package.

Jayasuriya has, in a media statement, said steps must be taken to ensure proper use of the funds. The IMF released the third tranche of $ 336 million from its $ 2.9 billion bailout package.

Full text of the statement: “We believe that the release of the third tranche by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is crucial for Sri Lanka’s restructuring programme and is in the nation’s best interest. It is our national responsibility to allocate and manage these funds towards the country’s development. Given the current economic challenges and the significant sacrifices made by the people, it is imperative that every penny received is used responsibly and effectively.

“Our foremost concern is the urgent need to combat waste and corruption, consistently highlighted by the IMF.

“Additionally, rehabilitating neglected ancient tanks, totaling approximately 15,000, for modern agricultural use is essential. This initiative can be supported by international funds, friendly nations, the private sector, and the military, promising transformative outcomes.

“Another major task is to immediately accelerate the export sector. In the 1990s, a significant programme under the theme “Export or Perish” was launched, including the highly successful international trade fair “Expo 92,” which attracted 5,600 foreign buyers. The concept of Export Villages was successfully implemented, resulting in high incomes for people in selected villages. Given the current situation, we can establish special export villages by leveraging the support of the supermarket chains that are currently operating successfully.

“The Export Development Board (EDB) should be given the necessary resources and powers to strengthen its capabilities. With advanced communication technology, Sri Lanka can be promoted as a country with rapidly increasing exports, even without the need for traditional exhibitions.

“At the same time, it is crucial to support the development of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs). This can be achieved by providing subsidized interest rates and basic infrastructure facilities. We should take inspiration from the former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who created new opportunities for India’s youth through the development of the IT/BPO sector. This concept can be easily popularized in Sri Lanka, offering similar benefits.

“The National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) urges immediate action on these fronts, expecting responsible leadership to address these pressing issues.”

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