It has been revealed in Parliament yesterday (22) that a senior official in the Presidential Secretariat has continued to exert pressure on the Town Hall branch of the People's Bank to extend special support to United Farmers Trust Limited, which has won the contract to import nano nitrogen from India to Sri Lanka.
The relevant official in the Presidential Secretariat has ordered the immediate opening of a bank account for this company on the 18th of October.
The two directors of this company are said to be business associates of several powerful ministers of the previous government.
Vijitha Herath's revelation!
NPP MP Vijitha Herath revealed in parliament on Friday that Sri Lanka had deposited USD 1.275 million to an account of a private company as payment for the recently imported Nano-Nitrogen Fertilizer from India.
“This parliament must be made aware of how the payment was made to the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) for the fertilizer imports,” Herath said.
He said that on the 18th of October, the Treasury had requested the People’s Bank to release USD 1.275 million as payment for the imports.
“The due process would be to make payments from the accounts maintained by the Ceylon Fertilizer Company Ltd,” he said.
However, the MP alleged that Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundara had intervened and ordered the People’s Bank to open a separate private account at its Town Hall Branch under the name ‘United Farmers Trust Limited’.
“Funds belonging to the People’s Bank were transferred to a private company account. This is not a small amount, but USD 1.275 million. That is more than Rs. 290 million,” he said.
‘The directors of the company are Mohan Perera, G. M. Weerasinghe. Who are they? Are they owners of fertilizer companies?’ Herath inquired.
He went on to note that the ‘United Farmers Trust Limited’ had thereafter paid USD 300,000 to IFFCO and another USD 50,000 as freight charges as well as another USD 37,000 as payments.
“Only a fraction of the total payment was made,” he alleged in Parliament and questioned what happened to the rest of the money.
“Parliament was kept in the dark over this matter, despite the house possessing monetary power,” he said.
The MP said that it was also revealed that the director of ‘United Farmers Trust Limited’ had continuously requested People’s Bank to convert the remaining money into local currency, adding that too is a serious cause for concern.
Agriculture Minister's response
Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage in response said it was the Indian High Commission that facilitated the fertilizer imports and IFFCO had appointed ‘United Farmers Trust Limited’ as its representative in Sri Lanka.
Therefore, the government paid the designated representative and they opened the LCs for the fertilizer imports.