May 07, 2017

Appointment of expert on expanding territorial waters hits snag Featured

President Maithripala Sirisena has put off, at the insistence of the attorney general, a proposal by several senior cabinet ministers to appoint Dr. Saliya Wickramasuriya for international level expert talks on expanding boundaries of Sri Lanka’s territorial waters, lankadaily reports.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera has proposed to the cabinet that Dr. Wickramasuriya is the best person to head the national ocean affairs committee, and the ministers have approved it.

He is an expert on ocean affairs and oil explorations and counts more than 20 years of experience in these fields.

Sri Lanka has to act speedily this year in order to get here territorial waters expanded.

However, the AG has objected, saying Dr. Wickramasuriya cannot hold a government position, as he is accused over the RADA deal.

Our sources say that at last week’s cabinet meeting, Chandima Weerakkody, Mahinda Amaraweera spoke in support of his appointment.

The president responded by saying that Dr. Wickramasuriya might have all the qualifications, but that the AG’s recommendation negated all that.

AG’s role

Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe intervened, saying the AG was only the person advising the government on legal affairs, and not the person who took decisions of the state.

The cabinet can take a decision, he said, noting that the appointment would not be a permanent one.

Due to the AG’s objections, Dr. Wickramasuriya cannot go overseas in connection with the duties at the Petroleum Resource Development Secretariat where he is employed at present.

The cabinet has decided to take a final decision at its next meeting.

Controversy surrounds the arrest and filing charges against Dr. Wickramasuriya over the alleged misuse of Rs. 645 million given to RADA, as its CEO, to build houses for the tsunami-displaced.

It has now been established that he had acted on a cabinet paper submitted by the then president Mahinda Rajapaksa and on approval by the cabinet.

Now, ministers question the AG’s having blocked the government from obtaining the specialist services of Dr. Wickramasuriya.