Sri Lanka minister rejects charges of funds misuse

Sept 21, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s deputy finance minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya rejected charges that the government had misused funds in starting a new budget airline and a bank. He gave no further details in his speech.

He also said the government has evidence of transfers of funds by previous governments from the Treasury to Tamil Tigers and that details would be revealed next week.

The transfer of funds to set up the new state-owned budget airline Mihin Lanka and for the Lankaputhra Development Bank was done according to the law and in order to meet the country’s needs, Siyambalapitiya told the annual general meeting of the Inland Revenue Staff Officers Association Friday.

The bank was needed to support local entrepreneurs who were being neglected by commercial banks, he said.

Siyambalapitiya was responding to allegations by the island’s opposition that the government had misused public funds to set up the bank and airline.

Opposition politicians had charged that Lankaputhra Banks had spent hundreds of millions subscribing to preference shares of the newly created state airline.

However other critics had pointed out that two newly created state