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Treasury Dy. Sec. not aware of meetings held for cash shortfall

Treasury Bond Commission:

The Deputy Secretary to the Treasury S.R. Attygalle yesterday said that he was unaware of any meeting held regarding an additional cash requirement that the government encountered in the first quarter of 2015.

Attygalle made these observations while being questioned by Arjun Mahendran’s lawyer Chanaka de Silva on a series of meetings which were held with regard to a borrowing requirement to fund road development contracts given by the previous regime without having made any allocations.

The questions were posed after Attygalle on July 17 gave evidence to the Treasury Bond Commission stating that there was no additional borrowing requirement for the month of February 2015.

De Silva asked Attygalle whether he was aware that the Economic Subcommittee of the Cabinet met on February 24, 2015 to discuss the shortage of money to fund road development projects which were at the time on hold. Attygalle said he did not know about such a requirement nor did he know about such a meeting.

De Silva then asked if Attygalle was aware of another meeting held on February 26, 2015 at the Central Bank to which several ministers including the then Finance Minister and the Highways Minister participated in. De Silva told Attygalle that the discussion in the meeting was the same fund requirement for the road development projects which were on hold.

Attygalle said he was unaware of such a meeting as well.

The Deputy Secretary to the Treasury was testifying for the second day at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating into the Treasury bond issue, yesterday. Representative of former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran, lawyer Chanaka de Silva led evidence for the day.

De Silva then asked if Attygalle was aware of another meeting which was held on March 3, 2015, between the then Former Finance Minister and the contractors of the said RDA projects, Attygalle denied knowledge of such meeting.

De Silva also asked if Attygalle knew of a committee headed by Daya Liyanage, which was appointed to look into the Fiscal Responsibility Management Act and submit a report, the witness said he does not know of such a committee. De Silva then referred the witness to a letter produced by his client on May 16, 2017 which was signed by then Finance Minister. Attygalle said he has not seen the letter before.

After Attygalle confirmed that the signature in the letter was of former Finance Minister, De Silva asked whether he has a reason to doubt the content of the letter sent by the former Finance Minister. Senior Additional Solicitor General Dappula de Livera then rose to object the question. De Livera pointed out that Chanaka de Silva cannot ask a question of this nature.

Chairman of the Commission, Supreme Court Justice K.T. Chitrasiri said that Attygalle “can’t answer that question” and overruled the question.

De Livera told De Silva that he should ask relevant questions, to which the latter was quick to say that “I am asking the relevant question but not the relevant question you want me to ask”.

De Silva also requested De Livera ‘to sit’ who had not yet taken his seat after he rose to object De Silva’s question.

De Livera then promptly replied “I will sit when I want to sit” while De Silva squeezed in a “Thank you” into the squabble.

De Livera then retorted, “You can’t dictate me”. De Silva not to be outdone shot back “You cannot dictate to me either.”

De Livera then said “I can” to which De Silva replies with a “You can’t.”

After the two lawyers threw several more ‘I-cans and you-cants’ to the squabble, Commissioner Justice P.S. Jayawardena intervened in the argument.

Justice Jayawardena asked “What kind of an argument is this between two senior counsels?” and requested both to stop the argument.

Chairman of the Commission, Justice K.T. Chitrasiri requested De Silva to rephrase the question and De Silva complied. During the re-examination by the Attorney General’s panel Attygalle said if the Central Bank failed to fulfill the monthly borrowing requirement of the government, the General Treasury will look into other options to realise the short-fall. He explained that generally when such a short-fall occurs the General Treasury will utilize its overdraft financial service or postpone possible transactions for the next month. Pan Asia Banking Corporation Deputy General ManagerRichard Aruna Dias will testify before the Treasury Bond Commission today (18).