Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe was told to testify with accuracy and clarity before the Presidential Commission inquiring into the Treasury bond issue yesterday.
Wijesinghe was requested to “think deeply before answering questions on subjects that he does not have expert knowledge on.”
AG Wijesinghe was informed so, following certain answers he provided to questions posed by legal representative President’s Counsel Nihal Fernando regarding the loss calculation of the auction held on February 27, 2015 which was included in the AG’s special report on the matter.
The Commissioner, Supreme Court Judge, Justice K.T. Chitrasiri said it is important that Auditor General Wijesinghe give correct answers to questions or refrain from answering to questions that he does not have expert knowledge on.
“Or else we may have to discard your testimony. The Commission will have a problem with including your testimony into our final report. It is alright to say ‘no’ to questions for which you need expert knowledge to answer.” Justice Chitrasiri pointed out.
Commissioner, retired Deputy Auditor General V. Kandasamy informed that the AG’s Department has provisions to employ expert sources to assist any investigations they are leading.
Thus, it is perfectly alright to say that you are unaware of certain subject matters, Justice Chitrasiri told the Auditor General.
Legal representative of the Perpetual Treasuries Limited, Nihal Fernando PC requested Auditor General Wijesinghe to explain how to calculate the price of a Treasury bond, to which the latter answered as ‘it is not relevant to the auditing process.’
Fernando PC asked whether AG Wijesinghe knows, or does not know how to calculate the price of a Treasury bond, to which the latter said it is not a relevant question. Fernando PC also asked AG Wijesinghe whether he knows the formula with which the price of a Treasury bond is calculated, to which the latter replied as “I don’t have all the formulas by heart.”
AG Wijesinghe asked from the Commission Chairman “whether he has to answer to the questions Fernando PC asks”. Chairman Chitrasiri said, Wijesinghe indeed has to.
Meanwhile, asked as what alternative methods the Auditor General proposes that the government could have opted for, rather than fulfilling the borrowing requirement on February 27 2015, through an auction, AG Wijesinghe said taxation, money printing, issuing Sri Lanka Development Bonds and obtaining an overdraft facility from the Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank were some. Commissioner, Supreme Court Judge Justice Prasanna Jayawardena questioned Wijesinghe whether he believes the options like money printing and taxation are not harmful to the government and the country’s economy at large.