Keheliya resigns as Environment Minister
Posted on February 6th, 2024

Courtesy Adaderana

SLPP MP Keheliya Rambukwella, who is currently in remand custody, has tendered his resignation as the Minister of Environment.

Accordingly, he had submitted his letter of resignation as the Minister of Environment to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has accepted the resignation.

The former Health Minister was remanded on 03 February, following his arrest by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on 02 February, in connection with the procurement of substandard human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).

Later that day he was admitted to the Prison Hospital on medical recommendation.

The arrest came hot on the heels of pressure from civil society activists and health sector trade unionists, who called for the immediate apprehension of the lawmaker.

Prior to the apprehension of Rambukwella, seven arrests had been made in connection with the drug procurement scam. But the fifth accused was later released on bail. 

As such, the former Health Secretary, the Director of the Health Ministry’s Medical Supplies Division (MSD) and three other officials of the same division, as well as the owner of the company, which is said to have supplied the substandard batch of immunoglobulin vials, now remain in custody on remand.

In October 2023, the NMRA revealed that forged documents were found to have been submitted for Customs clearance to procure a batch of 22,500 vials containing human immunoglobulin, an antibody produced by blood plasma cells, which later failed the quality tests.

The product, which was said to have been manufactured by Livealth Biopharma Pvt Ltd. India and imported by a local medicine supplier called Isolez Biotech Pharma AG (Pvt) Ltd. However, the India-based manufacturer has denied having a hand in this fraudulent activity and communicated to the NMRA that it has neither manufactured, supplied nor exported these products to any party.

After the human immunoglobulin scandal came to light, Rambukwella was stripped of health ministerial portfolio and was appointed as the Environment Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle in October. Dr. Ramesh Pathirana was appointed as the Health Minister in addition to his current portfolio as Minister of Industries.

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