by Zacki Jabbar-April 8, 2017, 8:12 pm
If Perpetual Treasuries Limited had done any wrong, inquiries should cover its dealings with the Central Bank commencing from 2008, State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe said yesterday.
He told the “Sunday Island” that Perpetual Treasuries (PT) had been making profits even before Arjuna Mahendran became Governor of the Central Bank (CB). “Any inquiry should be comprehensive and begin from 2008. If PT had continuous inside information, then who in the CB had provided it? That is the question.”
Asked why the February 2015 issue of Treasury Bonds (TBs) had suddenly been increased from the originally decided Rs.1 billion to Rs.10 billion and if sufficient notice had been given to all the dealers, Senasinghe said: “Firstly it was the Public Debt Department of the CB that decided on increasing the quantum of bids. Yes, all dealers were aware of the increase. But when the government is trying to obtain funds at the lowest possible rate to clear the huge debt burden that the Rajapaksas had created by taking commercial dollar loans at high interest rates, it’s just not possible to give weeks of notice to the market.”
He explained that if only Rs.1 billion in TBs were issued first, then the market would have guessed the trend and demanded higher interest rates to purchase the other TBs totaling Rs.9 billion that the authorities needed urgently.
“The interest rates at which we issued bonds was lower than what the Rajapaksa government paid” ,the Minister emphasized.
Admitting that Mahendran had made a big mistake by being present in the dealing room on the day of the TB issue, Senasinghe said he did not know whether Mahendran had acted out of personal interest or considering the urgency of obtaining funds to bail out the economy which had been destroyed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers for generations to come.
When referred to the Committee on Public Enterprises ( COPE) Report that was released to the media by COPE Chairman D.E.W.Gunasekara, which stated that Arjuna Mahendran was guilty in connection with the February 2015 issue of Rs.10 billion in TBs, he said ” that was a distorted Report that D.E.W. Gunasekera released. Nowhere in the Report which was still being prepared at the time, was it stated that Mahendran had been found guilty. Mr. Gunasekera had no right to issue a Report that had not been finalized and did not contain the views and signatures of all COPE members.”
Senasinghe pointed out that Gunasekera was entitled to his personal opinion but unfortunately had abrogated his official duty, despite being a Senior Minister.