COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – If there were independent commissions overseeing the public sector, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe would not be able act as he has done over an inquiry into an alleged Treasury bond scam, a senior opposition politician taunted in parliament.
Sri Lanka’s Parliament is debating a 19th amendment to make the public service independent again through a series of independent commissions.
Legislator Susil Premajayantha, who is also the head of the opposition United Peoples Freedom Alliance coalition told parliament that setting up independent commissions was good for ‘Yahapalanaya’ or Good Governance.
"Now Yahapalanaya is very important," Premajayantha told parliament, gleefully. "That is because we saw these few days how Yahapalanaya was in operation over the incident at the Central Bank."
Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe has promised to give to parliament an inquiry report into alleged insider dealing in a Treasury bonds involving a company connected to the son-in-law of Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran was the main beneficiary.
According to a government statement the inquiry committee made up of three lawyers connected to Wickramasinghe’s United National Party found no ‘direct role’ by the Central Bank Governor in awarding the bonds at high rates to the family firm but recommended a deeper probe.
Premajayantha, a lawyer charged that the inquiry was one-sided and was contrary to the principle of Audi alteram partem.
The Central Bank comes under the Prime Minister’s Policy Planning ministry.
"The inquiry should be given to someone else," he said. "The Central Bank comes under the Honourable Prime Minister. The three member committee was appointed by the Prime Minister himself.
"That is not the way it should have happened. So it is good that these independent commissions are coming. If those commissions were there, this thing could not have been done."
Premajayantha said they would ask for a parliamentary select committee to go into the allegations.
President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickramasinghe have been struggling to gain support pass the constitutional change with the main opposition Sri Lanka Freedom Party demanding various changes and delaying the process.
It is still not clear whether agreement can be reached on the commissions and the required two thirds majority in parliament would be available Tuesday the vote is due to be taken.