ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has granted leave for Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) and three other petitioners to proceed with a fundamental rights case against former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa among many others for being responsible for the country’s worst currency crisis in decades.
The TISL along with activists Chandra Jayaratne, Jehan Canagaretna and Julian Bolling filed the petition in the public interest calling for action against persons responsible for the prevailing crisis in Sri Lanka.
Former President Rajapakse, former Finance Ministers Mahinda Rajapakse, Basil Rajapakse and Ali Sabry, the then Cabinet of Ministers, the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka, former Governors of the Central Bank W D Lakshman and Ajith Nivard Cabraal, former Secretary to the Treasury S R Attygala, former Secretary to the President P B Jayasundere, and Monetary Board member S S W Kumarasinghe were named as respondents.
The TISL in a statement said the Supreme Court also directed to include current Monetary Board members Sanjeeva Jayawardena and Ranee Jayamaha, who also served before the economic crisis, as respondents in the application.
The TISL said the court has ordered the Auditor General to conduct an audit and submit a report by the November 30 on the decision made by the Monetary Board to set the value of the Sri Lankan rupee at 203 against the US Dollar.
The Supreme Court has also ordered a report on the delay in seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the settlement of the sovereign bond of 500 million dollars on January 18, 2022, using foreign reserves, and an audit on the loss caused to the Central Bank by such payments.
The Court also has directed incumbent central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe to produce copies of all communications and recommendations given to former president Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, former Finance Ministers Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Monetary Board of Sri Lanka, Former Governors of the Central Bank W D Lakshman and Ajith Nivard Cabraal, and former Secretary to the treasury S R Attygala.
The Monetary Board has been directed to produce copies of all reports given to former Ministers Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis aggravated after the central bank under Cabraal allowed the rupee to collapse following heavy money printing in trillions of rupees to maintain record low interest rates to boost economic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cabraal, the former central bank governor, told EconomyNext that he has already submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court in July this year and it still is valid.
In the affidavit, Cabraal though his lawyers said he had made every effort to enable the Monetary Board to deliver its key objectives of economic and price stability as well as financial system stability in a holistic, practical and legal manner in very difficult and challenging circumstances and thus he has not breached the fundamental rights of any petitioners. (Colombo/Oct07/2022)