Sri Lanka appoints its junior minister to head country’s Central Bank

Colombo, Sep 14 (PTI):
Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday appointed Ajith Nivard Cabraal, the sitting junior minister overseeing capital markets, to head the island nation’s Central Bank, amidst a severe foreign exchange crisis that the country is facing. This will be Cabraal’s second term as the Governor of the Central Bank as he has previously served a stint as the head of the institution from July 1, 2006 until his resignation on January 9, 2015. Since August last year he was the Money and Capital Markets State Minister.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed Ajith Nivard Cabraal to head the island’s Central Bank with effect from September 15, according to an official statement. Cabraal resigned from his position in order to assume the new post, which was left vacant by the resignation of current governor, Prof WD Lakshman, with effect from September 14, the Colombo Page reported.
The appointment order pertaining to Cabraal has prompted protest by the Opposition leaders, saying that he has serious allegations of fraudulent transactions and also his new posting is a conflict of interest as he is a ruling party politician. In a statement, the Opposition’s economic spokesman Eran Wickremaratne said that the integrity of the country as well as the Central Bank must be protected by ensuring that a fit and proper person was appointed as the Governor, and Mr. Cabraal, with multiple allegations of fraudulent transactions and conflicts of interest, does not prove to be fit and proper .
Opposition maintains Cabraal’s appointment would compromise the neutrality and the independence of the Central Bank. Lakshman, the previous Central Bank chief, told reporters he was being pressured to resign three months ahead of his planned retirement.
He was also a Rajapaksa appointee in November 2019.
Lakshman’s tenure as the Central Bank head was a bumpy ride. Rajapaksa once summoned the entire Central Bank hierarchy to take them to task over inefficient handling of the economy. The Central Bank was accused of printing money on a large scale to tide over economic woes during Lakshman’s stewardship.
So the governor (Lakshman) is retiring after destroying Sri Lanka currency by printing 1.2 trillion to please his political masters, Harsha de Silva, another opposition legislator, tweeted.
Sri Lanka is facing a severe foreign exchange crisis as the island nation, which heavily depends on tourism and tea exports, was battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

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