By Shamindra Ferdinando
The main opposition, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has called for a full investigation into the conduct of the sacked agriculture secretary, Professor Udith K. Jayasinghe, by the WPC Auditor General Wickramaratne and other relevant authorities.
Matale District Lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne, on behalf of the SJB, said the truth could not be removed by sacking Professor Jayasinghe. Accusing Professor Jayasinghe of importing liquid nanourea from India at a much higher cost than the Indian market following the rejection of a stockpile of Chinese carbon dioxide, MP Kaviratne alleged that the official sacked was the main culprit.
Professor Jayasinghe said he was quite surprised by the SJB’s allegations. “I have absolutely no idea why the opposition leveled me with a series of accusations,” Prof Jayasinghe said, adding that he too wanted to know what he had done wrong and why. When it was pointed out that the SJB held him responsible for the ruin of the agricultural sector, Prof Jayasinghe said he would like to know how he got there in less than six months.
Professor Jayasinghe was appointed secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture at the beginning of June this year. At the time he received his appointment, Professor Jayasinghe was Vice-Chancellor of Wayamba University. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa replaced Professor Jayasinghe with DMLD Bandaranayake this week.
The former UNPer said the government should explain the appointment of five secretaries to the agriculture ministry since the last presidential election in November 2019.
Referring to the secretary of another ministry that owns real estate in Australia, lawmaker Kaviratne said the government could not fix the problem by sacking the secretary of the agriculture ministry.
MP Kaviratne said Professor Jayasinghe questioned the role played by Ven. Atureliye Rathana and the chairman of the Association of Government Physicians (GMOA), Dr Anuruddha Padeniya, in the promotion of carbonic fertilizers, although he was in fact the main person who defended the interests of private companies engaged in the import of fertilizers.
MP Kaviratne pointed out that after declaring in May 2021 what the government called a green agriculture development strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture launched in June 2021 a global tender for organic fertilizers. . Subsequently, on August 11, 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture appointed Qingdao Seawin Biotech Group Co., Ltd. as a supplier of 99,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to Sri Lanka, MP Kaviratne said.
Responding to another question, MP Kaviratne stressed that the government cannot absolve itself of the responsibility of opening a letter of credit and immediately shipping the first shipment even before the National Quarantine Center. plant (NPQC) has authorized the test samples. Referring to a statement released by the Chinese company dated Oct. 26, 2021 that addressed the fertilizer crisis, MP Kaviratne said the supplier clearly acknowledged that the NPQC received product samples on the same day (Sept. 23 2021). China shipped the organic fertilizer. .
MP Kaviratne said a wider investigation was needed to expose all those who had benefited immensely at the expense of the country. The outspoken MP said China has gone so far as to blacklist the People’s Bank following the issuance of an enjoyment order by the Colombo High Commercial Court regarding payment for stock of rejected fertilizer.
The SJB MP urged officials to investigate why more than a month after the government lifted the ban on agrochemicals, no products had been imported. Who had the registrar of pesticides removed and why, asked MP Kaviratne, warning the government that once President Gotabaya Rajapaksa opened the new session of parliament on January 18, the opposition intended to raise this question.
The ruin of the agricultural sector cannot be blamed on one recently sacked secretary, the MP said. She pointed out that the prorogation of Parliament shortly after the adoption of the budget for 2022 had been influenced by the devastation in the agricultural sector following the hasty abolition of the use of agrochemicals, the betrayal of Yugadanavi, the deterioration the balance of payments crisis and the rising cost of living.
After promising political stability and security, the existing waiver had mercilessly destroyed all sectors, said MP Kaviratne, political leaders should take the blame for the fertliser crisis.
The MP alleged that an acting appointment was made after the removal of the Registrar of Pesticides, Dr JA Sumith, to pave the way for a certain company to receive the tender on agrochemicals. The SJB lawmaker urged the government to shed light on the ongoing issues.
Responding to questions, MP Kaviratne said the government could not distract the public from the CID recording the statements of several people, including ‘Aruna’ editor Mahinda Illeperuma regarding the charges against Dr PB Jayasundera. , secretary of the president regarding the opening of an account in a particular branch of the People’s Bank to pave the way for imports of nanourea from India. She pointed out that Gamini Senarath, secretary to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, also issued a statement following various allegations regarding carbon dioxide fertilizer imports from China.
The MP pointed out that the government had so far refrained from giving specific reasons for the dismissal of Professor Jayasinghe.