Fonseka calls for a radical change in political culture – The Island
…questions the justification for Basil’s actions
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The National Front of Professionals (PNF) questioned the appointment of Renuka Perera as MILCO president at the expense of Lasantha Wickremasinghe, a senior member of the group as well as an associate of the patriotic civil society organization “Yuthukama”. .
The ruling SLPP has listed ‘Yuthukama’ leader Gevindu Cumaratunga on its national list, while Anupa Pasqual, also a member of the civil society grouping, successfully contested Kalutara district.
PNF secretary and spokesperson Kapila Renuka Perera said The Island that the government owed an explanation as to why Wickremasinghe, who turned the loss-making public sector company despite severe difficulties, was removed from his post.
By the time Wickremasinghe received the nomination following the 2019 presidential election, Milco was said to have incurred losses amounting to Rs. 2,000 million, the PNF spokesperson said. Thanks to the interventions of Wickremasinghe and the tireless efforts of the management team, MILCO has made an annual profit of Rs 400 million regardless of the significant increase in income received by dairy farmers, Perera said.
Responding to another question, Perera pointed out that no less than Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had also served as finance minister until July last year, had underscored the critical importance of public sector transformation. Therefore, the recent removal of Wickremasinghe to accommodate Renuka Perera, the ruling administrative secretary of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), was contrary to the government position expressed by the Prime Minister, the PNF official said.
Renuka Perera received her appointment letter from Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa on the afternoon of January 20 at the Ministry of Finance.
Acknowledging that the public campaigns undertaken by the PNF since its inception in 2016 helped the then Joint Opposition (JO), now represented in Parliament as the SLPP, PNF Secretary Perera said they were quite horrified by the way the powers that be behaved at a time when the country was in serious economic trouble. Stating that the public had lost confidence in the parliamentary system, those who were skeptical of the concerns expressed by professionals should inquire about the sharp increase in the number of families, individuals, especially young people seeking to migrate.
When asked if the PNF had questioned Milco’s appointment, as Lasantha Wickremasinghe was a member of the organization, as there had been a number of other controversial appointments since November 2019, although they were remained largely silent, the official underlined his opposition to the appointment of Milinda Moragoda. as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India. “We raised the issue with the parliamentary high office committee and campaigned vigorously against the former minister, given such a crucial diplomatic post. However, political leaders thought otherwise,” the PNF spokesperson said.
Amid the controversy, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a statement defending Moragoda’s nomination.
The PNF official said that the SLPP administrative secretary appointed chairman of Milco should be questioned in the context of an unsuccessful attempt to appoint him chairman and member of the board of directors of Litro Gas. However, a furious president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, rescinded a letter issued by Finance Ministry Secretary SR Attygalle regarding Litro’s top appointment. This done, President Rajapaksa went so far as to inspect Litro’s main facility in Kerawalapitiya along with Theshara Jayasinghe, the outgoing President.
It would be pertinent to mention that Renuka Perera lost his job as chairman of the National Housing Development Authority (NHDA) last July when former lawmaker and convict Duminda Silva moved in shortly after receiving a presidential pardon.
President Rajapaksa brought in Theshara Jayasinghe in July last year following controversy over Litro’s success in blocking government audits, even after the Auditor General and COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) of at the time stressed the need for the public company Litro to submit to a public audit.
Litro has hired Romesh de Silva, PC and Sanjeeva Jayawardena, PC, who is also a member of the Monetary Board to represent Litro in the controversial and unprecedented case, parliamentary sources told The Island.
Sources said government auditing resumed after Theshara Jayasinghe replaced finance ministry appointee Anil Koswatte, who called on Treasury Secretary Attygalle to investigate allegations directed against him by Theshara Jayasinghe.
The PNF official said that during the yahapalana administration, the grouping strongly opposed the ETCA (Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement) with India as well as the SLSFTA (Sri Lanka-Free Trade Agreement). Singapore) and the American MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) project because they were hostile to the national interests of Sri Lanka.
In a statement issued on January 20, the PNF also discussed the appointment of Gamini Senarath as secretary to the president despite accusations of his culpability in the disastrous Chinese carbon fertilizer deal that resulted in Sri Lanka, to cash-strapped, has to pay USD 6.7 million regardless of the rejection of allegedly contaminated fertilizer stocks. The PNF spokesperson pointed out that a close relative of Gamini Senarath ran the Chinese exporter, the local agent of Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd, Chelina Capital Corporation (CCP).
However, following allegations in this regard both inside and outside Parliament late last year, Senarath issued a statement denying any involvement in the transaction while stating that he was ready to cooperate fully in the event of an investigation.
The PNF noted that the former secretary to the president, Dr. PB Jayasundera, also allegedly interfered in the imports of liquid fertilizers from India and that an investigation by the CID was underway following his complaint against the reports on the developments.
The PNF secretary said that, like many others, they too were disappointed with the way appointments were made in controversial circumstances at different levels. Asked whether the PNF has ever considered taking legal action against unacceptable government actions, the spokesperson pointed out that the creation of more than 30 separate ministries in violation of the Constitution was disputed and the case was pending before courts.