By Shamindra Ferdinando
The office of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday accepted a no-faith motion against Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake submitted by the Joint Opposition (JO) over his alleged involvement in Central Bank bond scams in Feb. 2015 and March 2016.
At the time of the alleged scams, UNPer Karunanayake held finance portfolio. President Maithripala Sirisena appointed him foreign minister in May this year in a minor Cabinet reshuffle.
A spokesperson for the Speaker’s Office told The Island that Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the parliament Neil Iddawela accepted the no-faith motion on behalf of the Speaker.
Thirty seven members of the JO signed the petition.
The JO comprises about 52 members elected on the UPFA ticket at the August 2015 parliamentary polls.
Having handed over the petition, JO leader Dinesh Gunawardena told The Island that they would officially call for the support of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the JVP as well as the SLFP group in the yahapalana government.
MP Gunawardena said they would push for an early date for the no-faith motion at the next party leaders’ meeting.
Responding to a query, Gunawardena said the JO expected those members of parliament who had been publicly critical of bond scams to throw their weight behind the no-faith motion.
The SLFP on the instructions of President Maithripala Sirisena lodged the first complaint against the bond scams in early 2015 with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC). Subsequently, President Sirisena appointed three-member Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) in January this year to probe the serious allegations, the JO leader pointed out.
Gunawardena said the JO was acting on the revelations made at the PCoI as well as COPE reports prepared by former MP Dew Gunasekera and MP Sunil Handunetti.
Provincial Council and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha repeatedly declined to comment on Foreign Minister Karunanayake’s conduct at yesterday’s SLFP press conference.
Minister Musthapha said that as a President’s Counsel he was cautious and would comment once the PCoI submitted its report to President Sirisena.
Minister Musthapha praised President Sirisena for having appointed the PCoI. When The Island pointed out that the President could have thwarted the second bond scam if he had acted soon after the first one, Musthapha asked what would have happened if PCoI had never been set up.
The SLFPer said the UNP should deal with Minister Karunanayake.