Cabraal’s bombshell 
Posted on August 27th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The government may have expected to postpone already delayed mini polls further by smuggling in some amendments into the Local Government (Amendment) Bill and provoking its enemies who usually throw Parliament into turmoil. But, its plan went awry because the Joint Opposition acted with restraint. The Bill was passed. Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya now says that if the Speaker signs the bill before mid September elections can be held in early December. Will the Speaker sign the Bill fast so that people can exercise their franchise without further delay?

An electoral contest is a worrisome proposition for the government, which is currently on the defensive due to its unfulfilled election promises, high cost of living and very serious allegations against its key members. The yahapalana leaders are all out to fast-track probes against their opponents to impress the public. The Greek bond issue has taken centre stage once again as a result.

In 2015, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, upon being questioned by some Opposition heavyweights in Parliament on the first bond scam, which had just come to light, demanded to know whether the MPs knew Treasury bonds from James Bond. Many a true word is said to be spoken in jest. We, therefore, don’t question the PM’s assessment of our parliamentarians’ IQ and knowledge of economic and financial affairs. Suffice it to say that many of them haven’t passed the GCE O/L examination! But, today, even those who don’t know James Bond are quite au fait with Treasury bond transactions and rackets associated with them thanks to the Central Bank bond scams.

Damning evidence which continues to emerge before the ongoing presidential commission of inquiry probing bond scams has sent the UNP ministers reeling so much so that they have torn into the Attorney General’s (AG’s) Department officials assisting the commission. Given half a chance they will cripple the commission, but, unfortunately for them, President Maithripala Sirisena has sought to defend the AG’s Department to the hilt. A badly cornered government is now desperate to expedite investigations against its opponents in a bid to divert the attention of the public away from the current bond probe.

Wide publicity was given to former Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal being questioned by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption the other day on the Greek bond controversy once again. Cabraal lost no time in retaliating with might and main; he issued a stinging statement. He has also offered to testify before the presidential commission of inquiry probing bond scams as some allegations have been levelled against him. He should be allowed to do so because the public has a right to know his side of the story.

Let it be stressed that if Cabraal or any other Central Bank worthy, former or present, has committed anything wrong he must be probed, prosecuted, given a fair trial and, if found guilty, punished. The government must ensure that the ongoing probes against the grandees of the previous dispensation are conducted thoroughly and the culprits punished. After all, that’s what they promised before the 2015 presidential election. Similarly, it is duty bound to counter Cabraal’s damning allegation that investing today in the Sri Lankan government securities such as Treasury Bills, Treasury Bonds, Development Bonds, and International Sovereign Bonds is fraught with a much higher risk than that faced by those who invested in Greek Bonds in April 2011. Cabraal has said in his media statement, inter alia: “It is also to be noted that in April 2011, when the Central Bank invested in the Greece Bonds, the international credit rating of Greece was BB+, which was three notches higher than Sri Lanka’s current rating of B+ (negative).”

It is imperative that the government spare no effort in trying to prove Cabraal wrong because his statement is sure to have a devastating impact on investor confidence. There are several economic experts within the government ranks including the Prime Minister himself. What have they got to say to Cabraal’s statement?

3 Responses to “Cabraal’s bombshell ”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Sadly, Cabraal is right on his statement (and wrong in investing in Greece bonds in 2011). Greece then had a credit rating of BB+ but Sri Lanka has a “junk” rating of B+. Only a fool would invest in Sri Lanka. An excellent defence on his part. This will surely ruin government’s investor plans.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    What makes the mind boggles is the fact that the perpetrators of the Central Bank Bond Scam are still ‘free birds’. Not enough of one they went on to do a second Bond Scam in March 2016, which is hardly mentioned in any of the worthy forums where the Central Bond Scam is being discussed.

    Investing in Greek Bonds or the Petroleum Hedge Fund scandal may be bad investments, but they are not frauds. Therefore to put them in the same category as the ‘ Broaddaylight Robbery that is the Central Bank Bond Scam’ is just throwing red herrings to divert the attention of the public.

    It is unfortunate that some of the personnel who come to moderate these issues are not well versed in the nitty gritty of these matters. Important questions that need to be asked – never get asked!

  3. Senerath Says:

    Ranil is the day light robber who robbed the CB, Why all are silent without BIg Protests. Why organise cricket protests and sabotage ?
    Why can’t JO organise a huge huge protest asking Rajitha to return the 100 million spent at Mt. Elezabeth hospital ?
    Why organise this unwinable “no-con-fi-dance” motions ?
    They are all the same.

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