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Cabraal’s media secretary responds to Keerthi Tennekoon’s private plaint

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The Private Plaint filed by Mr. Keerthi Tennekoon (complainant) against Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal (respondent) was scheduled to be taken up on May 2, 2022 before Magistrate Harshana Kekunuwela at the Colombo Magistrate’s Court No. 4.

However, that day was declared a public holiday by the Government, and hence certain cases, including the private plaint under reference fixed for that day were postponed by the Court authorities to July 25, 2022.

A few days later, the complainant and his counsel had sought to advance the hearing in this particular case, and, based on an ex-parte application, it had been reported that the court had granted an earlier date of May 23, 2022 for the case to be called.

In that regard, the respondent had to be notified to be present in court on that date by way of an official court summons. However, as at May 22, 2022, such summons had not been served on the respondent personally ordering him to be present in court.

Nevertheless, upon learning that this matter may be taken up by court on May 23 even though summons had not been served on the respondent, out of an abundance of caution, Mr. Cabraal’s lawyers Mr. Shavendra Fernando, PC and Mr Jeevantha Jayatilake, Senior Counsel, were present in court and explained to court the serious circumstances in the country that had resulted in the respondent having to be away from his residence. They also assured court that the respondent would be present in court on the scheduled date of July 25, 2022, as previously fixed by the court authorities.

On that day, the respondent’s lawyers would comprehensively refute the complainant’s allegations, and make it clear that such allegations leveled by the complainant are false &/or misfounded &/or politically-motivated &/or malicious.

In this context, with regard to the complainant’s allegations, it is noted that the same complainant (Mr. Keerthi Tennekoon) had previously filed a Petition in the Court of Appeal on September 14, 2021 based on certain alleged “findings” in a “Forensic Audit Report” dated November 8, 2019 carried out by an Indian company, “BDO India LLP”, pertaining to the issuance of Treasury Bonds and the conduct of Primary Dealers from 2010 to 2017.

In that case too, Mr. Ajith Nivard Cabraal was named as a respondent. That petition had been since dismissed by the Court of Appeal on November 3, 2021. This vital information has however been suppressed from the Magistrate’s Court by the complainant, and it is very likely that, if the complainant had properly disclosed the Court of Appeal Order to the Honourable Magistrate, this allegation in the private plaint would not have even been entertained.

It is also noted that another allegation of Mr. Tennakoon pertains to a payment of USD 6.5 million made by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) in respect of a Communication Program of the GOSL with a US National, Mr. Imaad Zuberi. In that context, as the banker to the government, the payments made by the CBSL on behalf of the GOSL have been made on the official written instructions of the appropriate government authority, and the respective payment protocols and procedures had been followed by the CBSL when making these payments.

Therefore, there has been no procedural or other violation in making these payments on behalf of the GOSL, and accordingly, this allegation of the complainant is also not sustainable.Mr. Tennakoon’s next allegation refers to the settlement of the GOSL’s USD 500m International Sovereign Bond (ISB) that matured on January 18, 2022, where it has been claimed that such settlement was done by the respondent notwithstanding the advice of various experts, in order to enable certain unspecified investors to make undue profits.

In this context, it must be clearly understood that settling or not settling the country’s sovereign debt is not a matter where a single individual can arbitrarily decide. It is of course possible that self-proclaimed experts (who bear no responsibility for their unsolicited advice) could advocate the non-payment of Sri Lanka’s foreign loans, including a maturing ISB.

However, such unofficial requests cannot be acted upon by responsible government officials without a formal direction or order from the Government (the Borrower) and perhaps even the approval of Parliament since funds for “debt servicing” had already been appropriated by Parliament when it approved the Budget 2022.

Further, at the time in question, the official Government policy was to pay its sovereign debt diligently, which policy, the Ministry of Finance and the CBSL had followed faithfully since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948. Needless to say, such policy could not have been unilaterally abrogated by the Governor of the CBSL on January 18, 2022 as claimed by the complainant, and therefore this allegation too, is baseless and misfounded.



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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