Basil Rajapaksa Violated Collective Responsibility of Cabinet of Ministters in the Yugadanavi Agreement Issue and not Wimal Weeraans,Vasudeva Nanayakkara or Udaya Gammanpila States President’s Counsel Uditha Egalahewa in Court

President’s Counsel (PC) Uditha Egalahewa, arguing on behalf of Ministers Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila, and Vasudeva Nannayakkara, who have submitted an affidavit in support of the petitions filed against the Kerawalapitiya Yugadanavi Power Plant-related agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and US-based energy company, denied that their affidavit is unconstitutional and violates the collective responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers, alleging instead that it was Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa who had violated the said collective responsibility.

He made these remarks when the petitions against the deal with New Fortress Energy Inc. were called up for hearing at the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday (10).

“The Cabinet Secretary has stated, through his arguments, that this affidavit violates Article 43(1) of the Constitution as it breaks the collective responsibility of the Cabinet.

According to Article 45(3), every minister is responsible to the rest of the cabinet members and to the Parliament. However, the cabinet paper related to this incident was not given to any minister. There was no decision taken regarding the cabinet paper either. Thus, it cannot be alleged that my clients violated their collective responsibility. They have acted according to the Constitution. That is why the three ministers requested a discussion with Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, in writing, regarding this. However, it was the Finance Minister who has violated his collective responsibility in this matter,” claimed Egalahewa PC.
Furthermore, Egalahewa PC presented a number of serious issues regarding the agreement.

“The New Fortress Energy Inc.’s documents show that it is registered with the New York Stock Exchange. That is untrue. There are a number of problems pertaining to this company’s financial strength. It is suspicious as to whether such a company can fulfil the conditions of this agreement. It is dangerous to give the responsibility of national resources to such a company. The content of some of the project reports of the company contradict each other. There is an issue with their transparency.”

He further alleged that a proper assessment about the company had not been done prior to selling shares of the Yugadanavi to it, whilst adding that a tender process had not been followed either.

Egalahewa PC questioned how Treasury and Finance Ministry Secretary S.R. Attygalle had obtained permission to sign the agreement when no cabinet paper had been presented about it or approved.

Responding to this, Attorney General (AG) Sanjay Rajaratnam PC said: “There is nothing to hide here. This was all done in a transparent manner. If ministers do not know about that, there is nothing we can do.”

Romesh De Silva PC, who argued on behalf of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), said that there are two cabinet decisions pertaining to this agreement.

The petitions will be called up for hearing again tomorrow (12).
Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera, Colombo Archbishop His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, some office bearers of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), and other parties including the Federation of National Organisations, have filed petitions against the Government’s decision to hand over 40% of the shares of the Yugadanavi Power Plant to New Fortress Energy Inc., along with a monopoly over supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The Cabinet, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, New Fortress Energy Inc., and others have been named as respondents.
Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, and Energy Minister and Cabinet Co-Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila have retained the private counsel of Egalahewa PC for the matter, as they oppose the agreement. The three ministers have already submitted a 58-page observation to the SC against the agreement.

The JVP tabled a copy of the agreement in Parliament recently where the agreement has been signed not with New Fortress Energy Inc. but with New Fortress Energy Sri Lanka Power Holdings Limited Liability Company (LLC), which is registered in the US.

Courtesy:The Morning