ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President and Prime Minister are known to mingle freely with crowds with minimal security at former war zones, but when it comes to visiting the Central Bank, it is a whole new "Bond" game.
President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made an unannounced visit to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Wednesday as controversial Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s term came to a close.
Even the presidential photographer was initially kept out of the closed-door meeting at an upper floor of the Bank while reporters were firmly told to stay away as the two leaders feared any questioning on bond sales.
Hence, STF commandos adopted James Bond-style tactics to make sure that no reporter slipped through their cordon, possibly the tightest since the Tamil Tigers bombed the Bank in January 1996.
It is possible that the guards were treating the Central Bank as a crime scene and were acting to protect evidence, although it has been established at the COPE parliamentary committee that the bank’s vaults had no ears.
Despite the tight security cordon, an impertinent reporter managed to get within striking distance of Wickremesinghe to shout out a question as the premier tried to leave after the top-secret meeting.
"We discussed the economy," Wickremesinghe said as he quickly got into the car in another manoeuvre worthy of a Bond movie where the hero tries to escape hired assassins.
Neither the President nor the PM would take any questions about who made the real killing from long-tenure bonds in february last year and again in April this year or whether it was simply fiction worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Mahendran himself was offering no comment on Wednesday, possibly his last day at the Bank. President Sirisena made it clear that there will be no "re-appointment" of a governor and only an "appointment."
"I will appoint a new Governor to the Central Bank in the coming hours," he said on Twitter. Mahendran could thus enter Sri Lankan history books as the first high-ranking official to be fired via Twitter. (COLOMBO, June 29, 2016)
Pease click on the links below to read more stories by our tongue-in-cheek columnist Namal Suvendra