Allegations About a Massive 10 Billion Rupee Sugar Tax Cut Fraud and the Govt’s Failure to Offer an Explanation Could Tarnish the Reputation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Says Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya

The apolitical National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) Chairman Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday that the failure on the part of the Government to explain the massive fraud of Rs. 10 billion that had allegedly taken place due to the cut in the sugar tax was a serious blow to the confidence that the people of this country had in the President.

Addressing a press conference, Jayasuriya said the Chairman of a Government institution who resigned recently was suspected of being either involved in or aiding such a massive fraud but he still continued to head another institution which comes under the purview of the President.

“The Government is not giving any explanation about the massive fraud of Rs. 10 billion that took place in this country with his involvement. This is clearly a serious blow to the confidence that the people of this country have in the President. It will mar his reputation. He should understand that,” the former Speaker said.

Jayasuriya said that in the 1980s, a program was devised to give a fair price to local sugar producers as well as sugar importers and the State Treasury and industry worked together in this process.

“At that time, I was the President of the Sugar Importers’ Association. Ananda Kumarasiri, who was the Chairman of the Sugar Corporation and later also the Deputy Speaker, represented the sugar producers at that time. Back then, an importer of sugar only made a profit of five or 10 cents per kilo. However, in a fraudulent transaction that led to a recent fraud, importers have been allowed to make a profit of more than Rs. 50 per kilo of sugar. Therefore, we who know about this trade feel nothing but disgust and shame when we see such incidents,” he said.

He added that there was much speculation in the country today about the situation surrounding the granting of a loan amounting to Rs. 3 billion by using a bank branch of the Bank of Ceylon.

“Such transactions can only take place under political influence. The manner in which this loan transaction took place is unbelievable. Can this happen with a clean government?” he questioned.

Jayasuriya said is it was ridiculous for one to talk about one country and one law today in light of these developments.