Denying any personal or political links with the terror accused Chairman of Colombo Traders’ Association (CTA), Y. M. Ibrahim, who is now in detention, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry & Commerce stressed that Ibrahim did not ‘officially work for him’ either.
“I had no personal connections with Ibrahim. Neither had he worked for me as a political coordinator nor any of my Ministry vehicles have been given to him for use,” said Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry & Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons & Cooperative Development, Skills Development & Vocational Training, Rishad Bathiudeen on April 26 at the Ministry, in Colombo 3.
Addressing a special press conference to respond to allegations made against him in the aftermath of April 21 terror attacks, Minister Bathiudeen rejected outright that a house belonging to his sister was rented out to terrorists.
“My sister has been living in Canada for the last four years. What kind of renting business do you think she could be doing in Sri Lanka? I totally reject this allegation too. I also reject all the allegations made by Parliamentarian S. B. Dissanayake about me on April 25. None of them are true. They are trying to take revenge from me for not backing them during last year’s political coup. This is just playing cheap politics and I and my party ACMC reject to play low politics. None of my political or Ministerial advisers are connected to the terrorist organisation National Tawheed Jamat (NTJ). I and my brothers do not have any links with NTJ whatsoever. There is also the allegation that I politically influenced to get some terror suspects released, which too I reject. As a growing political party, we fully support all the official investigations that are currently on and ready to give any assistance. At this critical time, I urge you all, as media personnel, to follow media norms and ethics without blindly reporting what people say for political gains. Such reporting is highly damaging to me and ACMC. Media also reports that the Industrial Development Board (IDB) under me has given empty cartridges to Shangri La suicide bombers’ metal company on the influence of a powerful government politician. As per procedure, I nor Ministry Secretary have now powers to approve these requests and only IDB officials and experts have the authority to accept and reject. More than 200 companies make these requests and they are just one company that applied and qualified. The IDB has no capacity to monitor all these companies on a daily basis,” said Minister Bathiudeen.
On Apr 24il, making s statement in Parliament, Minister Bathiudeen said that the arrested CTA Chairman Ibrahim met him with a delegation of CTA to resolve trade issues.
“Any Industry and Commerce Minister meets business and trade representatives for trade issues and business development. As the Trade Minister I too meet business and trade representatives on a regular basis. I met Y. M. Ibrahim in 2017 June along with his CTA representatives at my Ministry office to solve the supply issues that they officially submitted to me,” the Minister said.
On June 1, 2017, officially meeting Minister Bathiudeen, the CTA said that the prohibited market practice of mixing imported and domestically milled rice could be overcome with a simple move, instead of resorting to punitive official raids. CTA added that Maximum Retail Prices (MRPs), imposed by the government have become an impediment, hampering Lankan consumer well-being, rather than improving it.