Treasury bond scams:
CoI recommendation regarding forensic audits yet to be finalized, available reports with AG, CIABOC
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Over three years after Supreme Court Judge K.T. Chitrasiri led Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into Treasury bond scams handed over its report to then President Maithripala Sirisena, the Monetary Board is yet to complete recommendation in respect of forensic audits.
Of the recommended forensic audits, five had been completed at a cost of Rs 275 mn and the remaining one not commissioned yet.
The Island recently sought an explanation as regards the delay in completing the recommended process from Director Communications, CBSL.
The Island: What is the status of the procurement process pertaining to the sixth forensic audit ordered by the CoI?
CBSL: The procurement process to select an audit firm to carry out the sixth forensic audit is underway.
The Island: Can you explain how forensic audits so far obtained at a cost of Rs 275 mn utilized by the CBSL?
CBSL: Copies of the five forensic audit reports have been submitted to relevant authorities including the Attorney General and the Auditor General to initiate actions, as necessary. As per the request of the Director General of CIABOC, certain reports were submitted to CIABOC. Further, the Monetary Board appointed an internal Task Force to facilitate and oversee implementation of the recommendations in the Forensic Audit Reports which entailed, among others, strengthening of processes, internal controls, etc.
The CoI comprised Supreme Court Justice K. T. Chithrasiri, the late Justice Prasanna S. Jayawardena and retired Deputy Auditor-General K. Vellupillai, while attorney-at-law Sumathipala Udugamasooriya functioned as its secretary.
The Monetary Board commissioned forensic audits in consultation with the Attorney General and the Auditor General to deal with issues subsequent to the CoI probe on the issuance of Treasury bonds during the period 01st February 2015 to 31st March 2016 and matters that had come to light over the recent years in audit reports and in findings of internal investigations pursuant to the exercise of certain regulatory and agency functions undertaken by the CBSL. The CBSL in response to a previous The Island query said that the procurement of the five forensic audits were carried out by a Cabinet Appointed Consultant Procurement Committee and the contracts were awarded to audit firms with a global practice and international experience in forensic auditing with the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Former Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) D. E. W. Gunasekera yesterday (30) told The Island that parliament owed an explanation as regards the implementation of recommendations, both of CoI as well as the forensic audits. Pointing out that parliament conveniently failed to debate the CoI report on Treasury bond scams perpetrated in 2015 and 2016, the veteran politician said the issue at hand could be taken up in spite of the Attorney General moving Colombo High Court against some of the Treasury scam suspects. Former CBSL Governor Arjuna Mahendran remained at large, the former minister said, urging both the government and the Opposition to be responsible in their response to the country’s biggest ever financial fraud.
Responding to another query, one-time General Secretary of the CPSL reminded the CoI report on Treasury bond scams wasn’t taken up for debate in spite of it being on the agenda paper of the parliament.
The former minister said that the incumbent government couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for properly utilizing forensic audits obtained at a staggering cost of Rs 275 mn. The outspoken retired politician emphasized that the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, the alleged fraud in controversial duty reduction of sugar and a spate of other controversies, including import of contaminated coconut oil shouldn’t be allowed to divert attention away from Treasury bond scams.
Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) lawmaker Dr. Harsha de Silva said that his party expected the Attorney General to act on the basis of CoI recommendations and the forensic audit reports. The former Deputy Minister noted that action had been initiated at the Colombo High Court Trial at Bar in respect of the Treasury bond scams.
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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