COLOMBO: Dr.Indrajit Coomaraswamy, an economist who had previously been Director of Economic Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, has emerged as the compromise choice for the Governorship of Sri Lanka’s Central Bank after a politically embarrassing tussle between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over the appointment of a successor to the controversial Governor Arjuna Mahendran who had demitted office on June 30.
“After consulting all parties concerned, I appointed top economist Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy to lead the Central Bank of Sri Lanka,” President Sirisena tweeted on Saturday.
While Sirisena wanted Mahendran’s successor to be a politically neutral person or even a serving Central Bank official, Wickremesinghe wanted a person who will carry out the government’s economic agenda set by him as per the pre-poll understanding with Sirisena.
For the post, the Prime Minister had in mind his close political associate and former Finance Secretary, Charitha Ratwatte. But Sirisena insisted that the Governor should be politically unattached. Economist Indrajit Coomaraswamy then emerged as the “unanimous compromise choice” as a Presidential Secretariat source told Express.
The 1950-born Indrajit Coomaraswamy comes from a distinguished Tamil family of Jaffna. His grandfather, C.Coomaraswamy, was Ceylon’s High Commissioner in India and his father “Raju” Coomaraswamy, known as “Roving Raju”, was a distinguished Ceylonese civil servant and diplomat.
Studied at Harrow
Indrajit Coomaraswamy joined Lanka’s Central Bank in 1973 and worked in the Economic Research, Statistics and Bank Supervision Divisions as a staff officer till 1989. From 1981 to 1989 he was seconded to the Ministry of Finance and Planning. He worked for the Commonwealth Secretariat from 1990–2008, holding the posts of Director, Economic Affairs Division and Deputy-Director in the Secretary-General's Office. Later he was Interim Director of the Social Transformation Program Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
He studied in Harrow, am English public school of which Jawaharlal Nehru was an old student. He is a graduate of Cambridge University and got his doctorate in economics from the University of Sussex. He had played cricket for Cambridge University.
Dr.Coomaraswamy is an ardent advocate of Lanka’s linking up with regional and global economies by becoming part of multi-national production chains. However, he insists that trading regimes must be rule-based, stable and predictable.
Arjuna Mahendran, economist and banker left the Central Bank in a cloud having been accused of being involved in the “Bond Scam” of February 2015. His son-in-law Arjuna Aloysius’ firm, Perpetual Treasuries, had cornered over 70 percent of the LKR 10 billion Treasury Bonds issued in February 2015, allegedly because it had inside information about the volume of the issue and the interest rates the Central Bank had in mind.
While the opposition and even President Sirisena wanted Mahendran to be replaced, Prime Minister Wickemesinghe, who is said to be close to Mahendran, was against his removal on the grounds that the charges were baseless.
Only a couple of days ago, Wickremesinghe had said that a Committee of Lawyers, the police and the Supreme Court had cleared Mahendran of any wrong doing.
But the retention of Mahendran had become politically embarrassing for Sirisena because his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the entire opposition were against Mahendran’s continuation.