Ranil reiterates gold charge

Despite repeated denials by the Central Bank, Opposition UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday reiterated the allegations that the government was planning to sell a large amount of gold in its possession, “Talks are underway with a certain company to sell of 38 metric tonnes of gold valued at more than Rs. 1,400 million without any Cabinet approval,” Mr. Wickremesinnghe alleged at a public rally in Balangoda yesterday.

Mr. Wickremesinghe

The opposition leader said this gold did not belong to the Central Bank but to the government and the people and hence could not be sold without Cabinet sanction.

Inquiries from Central Bank officials had revealed that this gold had been recovered from the JVP during or after the insurrection in 1988-89, he said.

However the Central Bank yesterday again denied allegations that there were secret talks for the sale of gold.

Responding to charges by Mr. Wickremesinghe, CB Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told the Sunday Times the charges were untrue. "These are false and blatant untruths," he said.

On Monday, the CB in its first denial on the gold selling charges said the official international reserves of the country were managed by the Central Bank and held as foreign currency balances in reputed international banks overseas, in foreign currency denominated instruments and gold.

"The Bank conducts transactions with foreign counterparts in all foreign assets, including gold, as a part of its international reserve management operations.

These transactions are done in accordance with the Monetary Law Act. With the recent sharp increase in the reserve position, the Central Bank has further increased its gold holdings as part of its reserve management strategy," it said.

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