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    Parliament can decide on dissolution after Presidential election - PM Featured

    September 05, 2019

    Parliament should decide if it should be dissolved or not after the Presidential election, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday. He was responding to a question raised by JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake during the round of ‘questions for oral answers’. “Today the power to dissolve Parliament lies with Parliament unlike in the past where the power was vested on the President.In the event the need arises to dissolve Parliament it can only be done with the agreement of Parliament. The decision on whether or not to dissolve parliament, after the presidential election is something that Parliament should decide upon, together with the party leaders consent,” he said.

    Ratnayake also raised a question as to whether the non-allocation of specific allocations for government institutions and providing for this through an interim account, would pave the way for misappropriation of funds. He also expressed concern that during the elections this could pave the way for the misuse of state property and funds.
    In response, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said in order to determine the country’s economic status, a debate could be held in the House. He said as this year’s allocations have been made as per the appropriation bill, there is no possibility of such allocations being misused. “We cannot go beyond that and until December 31, this year we will have to adhere accordingly. None of the new projects would be included. “He also said that in the event a government is misusing such state funds, the Election Commission has the authority to take appropriate action.
    “After the Easter Sunday attacks, our income reduced. Now our income is gradually increasing. However, as a government, our aim is to maintain a primary surplus. Last year we did it and we are trying to do the same this year. We want to increase the primary surplus next year even further. Hence, we cannot increase the spending as then we would not be able to meet our goal. By controlling our expenses, we will be able to prevent a negative surplus and maintain a positive surplus,” the Prime Minister said.
    Bimal Ratnayake asked the Prime Minister if the government would have to bring in another interim budget in the event the president changes the ministerial portfolios and the allocations for the relevant ministries would have to be changed prior to the end of December.
    In response, the Prime Minister said that if required that could be done, but the allocations were made to the expenditure heads and even if the ministries change the departmental expenditure heads would remain the same.
    CITES conference postponed due to Easter Sunday terror attacks - PM
    The international CITES conference could not be held in Sri Lanka due to the Easter Sunday terror attacks and as a result it had to be postponed, said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, adding that there was no other reason for the postponement of this event.The Prime Minister was speaking in Parliament yesterday in response to a question raised by Joint Opposition MP Udaya Prabath Gammanpila during the round of questions for oral answers.
    “Unfortunately, prior to the conference being staged the Easter Sunday terror attacks happened. From that point the Foreign Ministry has been in touch with the CITES Secretariat in Geneva. Having taken into consideration the security situation in the country during that period, the CITES Secretariat in Geneva had taken the decision to temporarily postpone the conference.”
    Accordingly, it was agreed upon to hold the CITES conference from September 1-12. However, despite senior security officials of the UN Security Division visiting Sri Lanka on an inspection tour from May 28 to 30 and studying matters pertaining to security and notifying the UN of the possibility of holding the conference in Sri Lanka again, as the decision to hold the conference elsewhere had already been taken, it was not held in Sri Lanka,” Wickremesinghe said, adding that there was no other reason that the conference was not held in Sri Lanka.Electric fences to be repaired in three months
    Committee to mitigate Human -Elephant conflict -PM
    A special committee will be appointed to look into the grievances of the people who are caught in the Human-Elephant conflict and deliver solutions, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday (3) said. The Committee which will comprise parliamentarians, will be headed by the subject Minister, he said.
    The Prime Minister said the government has already taken considerable steps to aid those who are caught in the Human-Elephant conflict and prevent such tragedies. “This committee will evaluate the progress of such actions. It will meet every other week and it will review the progress of the respective bodies including government departments on their actions to minimise the Human-Elephant conflict,” he added.The Premier made these observations in reply to a question by Polonnaruwa District UNP MP Sydney Jayaratne yesterday in Parliament.
    PM Wickremesinghe said: “Polonnaruwa district is identified as an area threatened by the Human-Elephant conflict and there are number of deaths and property damages reported. The government has taken steps to prevent or minimise these situations. We have deployed officers of the Civil Security Department to maintain the electric fences.
    We are also developing an elephant holding ground in Horowpothana for rouge elephants. An electric fence of 648.3 km in length has been already constructed in Polonnaruwa district. Over 177 kms of electric fences has been identified for renovation. We have instructed to complete the repairing of the fence within three months’ time. We are to launch a national project for an electric fence and we are presently recruiting persons with technical know-how to build and maintain the electric fences,” PM Wickremesinghe also said.
    No liquor, sand mining permits issued to Govt. MPs - Kiriella
    The Yahapalana government has not issued liquor or sand mining and transportation permits to any of the government MPs during its rule since 2015, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella yesterday (04) said.
    Kiriella made these observations when UPFA MP Dr. Bandula Gunawardena raised concerns in Parliament over recent media reports quoting State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake who has allegedly given evidence before the Supreme Court that 100 of the 225 MPs in Parliament are in possession of liquor permits, while 75 of the Parliamentarians are in possession of sand mining and transportation permits. MP Gunawardena who demanded an explanation on the matter quipped “when someone eats chocolate sitting near a Sekkuwa (oil presser), the onlookers will assume that this person is eating Punnakku.”
    In reply to Gunawardena’s concerns, Kiriella expressed his confidence that the Yahapalana government has not issued any such permits to any of the government MPs. Kiriella pointed out this is not the same case during the previous regime. “One politician from the hill country was given 15 such permits during the previous regime. There is a similar case in Kurunegala as well. I can assure you that this government did not give any liquor or sand permit to the government MPs. Keep aside issuing such permits, we have not even discussed about such an action,” Kiriella pointed out.
    At this juncture, Gunawardena requested Kiriella to reveal the names of such MPs who are in possession of such permits. In reply Kiriella said that Gunawardena better forward the request to the MP who spoke about this case. “You should ask from him to reveal the names of such MPs. The Speaker or I cannot do that,” Kiriella said. The Speaker of the House observed that, “I cannot control what MPs say and do outside the House. I have informed about this to the Leader of the House, and he shall accordingly inform about this to the Party Leader.”
    Kiriella who then rose to speak said that some groups are trying to level allegations against the government as the election period is nearing. “I think these people are frightened of the coming election. The UNP is confident in winning the coming election,” Kiriella pointed out.
    Govt. MPs scoff at Opposition allegation on alleged misuse of CCF monies
    Government MPs shot down the Opposition’s allegation that a sum of Rs.3600 million belonging to the Central Cultural Fund (CCF) has been misused. Kurunegala District UPFA MP T.B.Ekanayake moving the adjournment motion in Parliament yesterday alleged that a sum of Rs.3600 million belonging to the Central Cultural Fund has been released without the consent of its Control Board. The adjournment motion also pointed out that the said Control Board of the CCF has not assembled for eight months during this year. Ekanayake has requested that a Parliament Select Committee be appointed to investigate into the alleged misuses.
    Speaking on the matter, Sate Minister Eran Wickremeratne pointed out that this adjournment motion is an attempt to sling mud at the government. “This motion spoke about a financial misuse. If someone is moving an adjournment motion on such a subject, it should be based on a report from the Auditor General or the Committee on Public Enterprises. This motion is based on media reports and it is a waste of time of this Parliament. It is obvious that there is a political hand behind all this. Information on the funds of the CCF can be obtained via the Right for Information Act. On the other hand, all these monies were allotted to renovate ancient temples like the Jethawanaramaya. Some of these monies were allotted for the renovation of churches which were destroyed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks. If we renovated the buildings and churches destroyed in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, what is wrong with that?” State Minister Wickremeratne questioned.
    Reiterating the same point of view, Non Cabinet Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe said that the adjournment motion was an incomplete one. “If there is any truth to this issue, a proper audit should be conducted by the Auditor General on this. Minister Sajith Premadasa who is the subject minister is someone who settles the accounts of projects without any misappropriations. I know that for a fact. I would like to challenge anyone to produce any such account which has not been properly settled. How can someone just level an allegation like this without any evidence from an AG’s report?,” Senasinghe questioned.

    UNP MP Bandula Lal Bandarigoda joining the debate on the adjournment motion pointed out that the Central Cultural Fund has immensely contributed to the development of the Buddha Sasana over the last few years. “Cultural Affairs Minister Sajith Premadasa as the subject minister started a project to build Dhamma Schools for temples in rural areas. Construction activities of all these Dhamma Schools were given to government bodies such as the Sri Lanka Army. No private constructors were hired. The construction activities of 361 such Dhamma Schools have already commenced.Two hundrdd and seventy of them have received financial allocations,” Bandarigoda pointed out.
    Even though the adjournment motion was moved by the Opposition, only four of the Opposition MPs joined the debate including MP Ekanayake who moved the motion. Only the Opposition MPs Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Susantha Punchinilame and Indika Anurudda spoke at the debate.From the part of the government, Ministers Harsha de Silva, Ranjith Maddumabandara, Jayawickrama Perera, Gayantha Karunatilake, Deputy Minister Nalin Bandara, UNP MPs Rohini Kumari Wijeratne, Thushara Indunil, Wijepala Hettiarachchi, M. Velu Kumar, Hector Appuhamy, Mujibar Rahuman and Ashu Marasinghe joined the debate. Most of the government MPs questioned as to why the adjournment motion was moved in haste. According to the debaters, the adjournment motion was presented on Tuesday at the last minute, contrary to the tradition. Most of the speakers of the government side wondered if the Opposition MPs abandoned Ekanayake who moved the adjournment motion.
    Minister Harsha de Silva speaking on the subject Minister Sajith Premadasa pointed out that there is a mudslinging campaign against Premadasa. “Some were laughing at the naming of those housing schemes after the names of famous people like Sangakkara or ancient Sri Lankan kings. He is naming these villages after respectable persons of this country. But unlike many other politicians, Premadasa never named any development projects after his name,” De Silva said.
    The adjournment motion was moved in the afternoon around 2.30 p.m. and by the 5.45 p.m., only MP T.B. Ekanayake and a TNA MP were left in the Opposition side of the Chamber. Despite the allegations, MP Ekanayake pointed out that it was not his intention to insult Minister Sajith Premadasa by moving an adjournment motion on the Central Cultural Fund.
    JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake who presided over the Chair at the time, expressed his disappointment over the adjournment debate “since there was no real debate going on.”
    Alleged reprimanding of Galle Returning Officer
    United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara yesterday (04) requested Speaker Karu Jayauriya to look in to an alleged incident where the Returning Officer of Galle District was allegedly “reprimanded” by a member of the Election Commission over selecting a date for the Elpitiya Pradeshiya Sabha election.
    “I heard that this EC member phoned the Galle District Returning Officer and blamed him using strong words for selecting the date for holding Elpitiya PS election. This is not an acceptable move if true. Therefore, I request the Speaker to look into this alleged incident on behalf of the House,” MP Nanayakkara said.The UPFA MP further said that there is another rumour that disciplinary action is being taken against certain Returning Officers in several Districts in order to remove them from the posts and appoint new officers who allegedly work in a favourable manner to the government.
    In response, the Speaker said that he also saw some reports on the alleged incidents and assured to look into the matter.
    Don’t use COPE revelations for political advantage - COPE Chairman
    Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Chairman JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti yesterday urged Parliamentarians not to use the revelations made before the COPE for political advantage or to tarnish the image of reputed persons or institutes.Handunnetti made this observation in relation to a claim made by MP Ananda Aluthgamage in Parliament yesterday (04). MP Aluthgamage quoting media reports questioned “if there has been any misappropriation in relation to purchasing of a land belonging to the Malwathu Chapter by Sri Lanka Cricket.”
    He pointed out that it has been revealed so on last Tuesday (04) when Sri Lanka Cricket was summoned before the Parliament Committee.At this juncture, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya extended Parliament’s apology for mentioning the name of the Malwathu Chapter Maha Nayaka Thera in relation to a controversial subject.
    Following the Speaker’s apology, Aluthgamage was quick to extend his apology as well. “As a Kandy District MP I would like to mention that I do not mean to bring any dishonour to the Malwathu Chapter by mentioning its name,” he said.
    COPE Chairman speaking on the incident, clarified that there has been no misappropriation in relation to the obtaining of a land belonging to the Malwathu Chapter on a lease basis to build a Sports-Campus by Sri Lanka Cricket. “The issue we raised at COPE proceedings was that Sri Lanka Cricket which got this land on a lease basis has not used it for its purpose at the elapse of three years. There will be an inquiry conduct on this delay by the Auditor General. So, the COPE requested the Auditor General to record observations from the Malwathu Chapter for auditing purposes only, and that would be because the respected Malwathu Chapter owns the land. I got to know that an MP has spoken about this in Parliament. These kind of remarks should not be made in Parliament that dishonour the Maha Sangha,” Handunnetti said.

    Last modified on Thursday, 05 September 2019 08:16

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