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Pandora papers: 4 more countries begin probes into alleged offshore secret wealth of elites



By Sanath Nanayakkare

The Pandora Papers had triggered a flurry of dramatic fallout around the world as current and former leaders in Chile, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, and Ukraine are facing official scrutiny over illegal financial dealings revealed by the Pandora Papers, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) said yesterday.

“In addition, the list of officials from different countries pledging tax probes of those named in the files is growing”, ICIJ said.

“Further to these developments, we are also beginning to see plans for proposed reforms in the U.S. and the EU for shaking off their reputation for playing a central role in how rich people around the world seek to hide and accentuate wealth in their countries,” they noted.

“Our reporting has also had some early impact in the rarified world of precious artifacts: The Denver Art Museum is preparing to return four antiquities to Cambodia following our investigation with the Washington Post and other media partners on an indicted art dealer’s offshore links,” they added.

The government of India said on Oct. 04 that it would investigate cases related to Pandora papers. The official spokesperson of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) of India said that the probe would be monitored by a team headed by the chairman of CBDT. Other representatives of the multi-agency group include the Enforcement Directorate, Reserve Bank of India, Financial Intelligence Unit and CBDT.

According to Pakistani media reports, more than 700 people in the country were named in the papers, among them two members of the cabinet.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing a high-level dialogue on ‘Financing for Development’ held on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly said that movement of ‘ill-gotten’ money was devastating the developing countries across the world.

“We have been trying our best to retrieve that money”, he said, conceding that even when his government located properties made from illegal money by Pakistanis abroad, it faced a number of legal lacuna and difficulties in trying to bring that money back.

He called upon developed countries to do better as far as the return of illicit wealth was concerned, saying “there is a lack of political will in the rich countries because they gain from it”.

Sri Lanka’s Thirukumar Nadesan and his wife Nirupama Rajapaksa were named in the Pandora papers

According to Pandora papers, the British-educated Nadesan – businessman and trustee of several Sri Lankan Hindu charities and temples had established shell companies and trusts in offshore jurisdictions.

Soon after the exposé, Thirukumar Nadesan had written to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declaring his innocence and requesting an impartial investigation.

Cabinet spokesman Dullas Alahapperuma said on 06 Oct. that the President had asked Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption to conduct an investigation and issue a report on the assets of Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan within one month.

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Forex crisis will lead to power cuts, warns Ranil



Udaya pooh-poohs warning

By Saman indrajith

UNP leader and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that the country would face power cuts soon if the government did not resolve the foreign exchange crisis urgently.

Participating in the third reading debate on Budget 2022, the UNP leader said the forex issue could result in Sri Lanka running out of money to import fuel.

Wickremesinghe called on the government to make a statement on the current situation.

The UNP leader pointed out that Sri Lanka had only Rs. 1.5 billion in foreign reserves, out of which Rs. 300 million were gold reserves, which meant only Rs. 1.2 billion was the liquid amount in foreign reserves.

The former PM said the low foreign reserves could lead to the country facing power issues in the future as there would be no funds left for fuel imports. However, the Minister of Power, Udaya Gammanpila, assured that Sri Lanka had enough fuel stocks.

The Minister said it was reasonable for people to assume that there would be power cuts in the future due to the foreign exchange crisis.

Reiterating that Sri Lanka had necessary fuel stocks, Minister Gammanpila said the fuel in hand was sufficient for the next 40 days.

Although the Sapugaskanda Oil refinery had been closed for 50 days, measures would be taken to resume operations at an early date, the Minister added, assuring that the foreign exchange crisis would not result in power cuts.

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State Minister Ranasinghe assures farmers using organic fertiliser compensation in event of losses



Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat yesterday

Provincial Councils and Local Government State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe yesterday assured that the government would compensate any paddy farmer who suffered losses due to adopting organic fertiliser.

Speaking at a meeting held at the auditorium of the Polonnaruwa District Secretariat, the Minister said that even if the government had not proposed to allocate funds in the Budget proposals for possible losses to paddy farmers using organic fertiliser, funds would be obtained from a supplementary estimate for the purpose.

Ranasinghe said that it was wrong to state that the government shifted from chemical to organic fertiliser abruptly. The government had promised to do so in its election manifesto and people had approved it by giving a two-third majority of votes for that. The UNP too had planned to adopt organic fertilisers in place of chemical fertilisers some 30 years back.

The State Minister said that during the past 30 years all the governments had spent billions of rupees to increase awareness of organic fertilisers among officials and the general public. In addition, there had been numerous projects introduced with the assistance of the World Bank to promote organic cultivation in the country.

Minister Ranasinghe said that there were chemical fertilisers, weedicides and pesticides and there was information that some traders sell them at exorbitant prices. The government would get the Consumer Affairs Authority and police to implement the law against the black marketers.

He said that some farmers had raised concern that nano-nitrogen fertiliser would be washed away owing to the heavy rains, but the government would supply that fertiliser again as it was promised by State Minister of Organic Fertilizer Sashindra Rajapaksa.

The meeting was attended by ministry officials and representatives of the farmers’ associations in the Polonnaruwa District.

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Arjuna quits UNP



World Cup winning captain and former minister Arjuna Ranatunga yesterday quit the UNP over its failure to get its act together

Ranatunga has communicated his decision to leave the UNP to the Leader, Secretary, Deputy Leader, and the Assistant Leader of the UNP.

Ranatunga said, in a letter to the UNP leadership, that he decided to join the United National Front ahead of the 2015 presidential election to make a change for the common good.

He has said as the first step towards that objective he contested the 2015 general election and secured the highest number of votes from the Gampaha District.

Ranatunga said that when many left the party in 2020, he remained with the UNP in order to protect it.

He said in 2020 the UNP suffered a massive loss, “and what is required is to prepare a programme to overcome the present and future challenges”.

“However, as there seems to be no such preparation there appears to be no purpose in remaining with the party”, Ranatunga said.

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