Finance Ministry rebuts reports on MR’s alleged instructions to Customs

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs has issued a press release refuting the alleged illegal instruction given by the Finance Minister PM Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Sri Lanka Customs to release the foreign currency in US Dollars that had been apprehended while being smuggled out at the BIA.

The press release read that the Sri Lanka Customs officials
sometime back had apprehended an outbound foreign national at the BIA while he was attempting to take out of the country, USD 53,455 in contravention of the Customs Ordinance.

It was reported that the foreign nationals who work at the Uma Oya project, which is funded by the Republic of Iran, had sent their monthly salaries through this person out of the country, according to the Finance Ministry.

The Ministry stated that the Iranian Ambassador in Colombo, on October 03, had made an appeal to the Finance Minister PM Rajapaksa to release this money on humanitarian grounds saying that this money belongs to the employees working at Uma Oya project.

“Accordingly, the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa, by virtue of the powers vested in him under section 164 of the S.L Customs Ordinance, directed the Director General of Sri Lanka Customs to release this money to its legitimate owner,” the press release further read.

Commenting further in this regard, the Finance Ministry stated, “this is not the first time that the foreign nationals who are working in the Uma Oya project taking their monthly salary out of the country.”

A foreign national was apprehended at a prior occasion while attempting to smuggle out foreign currency and on a similar appeal, the then Minister of Finance had directed the release of the money in June 2018 as well, according to the Ministry of Finance.