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Parliament

Solution to Govt. servants’ vehicle permit issue - Kiriella

Leader of the House, Minister Lakshman Kiriella yesterday said that the Finance Ministry will soon provide a solution for the issues faced by government servants following the government’s decision to temporarily cancel the concessionary vehicle permits.

Minister Kiriella acknowledged that government servants were put in a difficult situation when the duty free vehicle permits were temporarily cancelled. Kiriella said that the government has already held a round of discussion with responsible institutions with regards to the matter.

“I believe the Finance Minister will give a solution for this matter. He will be talking about this matter in Parliament at length.” he furthered.

Minister Kiriella made these observations in reply to a question raised by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake under Sanding Order 27 (2) in Parliament yesterday.

Dissanayake pointed out that the government’s abrupt decision to suspend the concessionary permit for vehicles has created a problematic situation for 175 government officers who are in the process of importing vehicles at present. He pointed out that officers who already hold duty free permits and officers who are have pending duty free permits are in trouble due to this complication. “Both these groups of officers are going through financial issues and emotional strain due to this matter.”

Dissanayake requested the government to discuss about the matter with Carmart Limited that is responsible for importing the vehicles ordered by the above mentioned government officers and ease the difficulty.


No US military base in Eastern Province- Leader of the House

The United States of America has not indicated any interest or any wish or desire to establish a military base in the Eastern Province, Trincomalee or in any other part of Sri Lanka duing any of the discussions that have been held between the two governments, Leader of the House, Public Enterprise Development, Upcountry Heritage and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kirella yesterday said.

He also pointed out that the American Embassy has already issued a statement on the matter on January 20, 2019.

“If the Opposition wants a debate on the subject, we are ready to have one,” Minister Kiriella also said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who rose at this point, stated that the Opposition is trying to drag in a new topic since they have nothing else to talk about. “Look who is talking, the ones who tried to steal a government. People are accusing them of trying to steal ruling power. Since they have no reply they now start talking about an agreement.” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe quipped.

These observations were made in reply to a question raised by MP Douglas Devananda in context of recent media reports alleging the establishment of a US military base in Tincomalee in the Eastern Province.

Minister Kiriella who spoke further urged all Parliamentarians to kindly check their facts before they decide to make statements to the press on matters of this nature in future.

“The United States of America and Sri Lanka enjoy excellent multifaceted bilateral relationship. In a regional and global context, Sri Lanka and the USA are committed to bulding an open and resilient Indo-Pacific region, where all countries can prosper,” he said.

“We are committed to protecting international laws, safeguards and standards, and work to protect the sovereignty of our nations,” Minister Kiriella also stated.


Adjournment Motion on delay of Provincial Council elections

The issues revolving around the delay in holding Provincial Council elections has now brought the matter to a dead end, UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma moving an Adjournment Motion on the delay of Provincial Council elections and its repercussions stated yesterday.

Alahapperuma pointed out that the Election Council Chairman has called the PC election issue “a Gordian Knot.”

“This knot was made worse by Parliament and it is only Parliament that can free this Gordian knot as well,” Alahapperuma observed.

Alahapperuma pointed out that the Western Province and the Southern Province will end their terms by April 2019. “The Eastern Province, North Central Province and Sabaragamuwa Province have been inactive for one and half years. The Northern Province, North Western Province and Central Province have been inactive over the past three months. By the end of this year all but the Uva Province will be operational,” Alahapperuma pointed out.

The Adjournment Motion was seconded by UPFA Anuradhapura district MP S.M. Chandrasena.

Further speaking, Alahapperuma pointed out that dodging an election is a political tragedy. “Not holding elections is an unhealthy trait in politics. The government is evading. All the parties have agreed to hold PC elections as soon as possible. Our objective today in moving an adjournment on this topic is to win the people’s right for an election.”

Alahapperuma alleged that minority political groups are not interested in PC elections as well even though the very concept of Provincial Council was introduced for the benefit of the minority ethnic groups in the country. Alahapperuma called this move a “political farce.”

Joining the debate, JVP MP Vijitha Herath pointed out if the government really upholds “good governance”, it should hold all elections without any delay. But the government keeps postponing elections giving different excuses, he further pointed out.

“The government couldn’t do anything solid for the country. So they wanted to postpone the elections. Now suddenly the SLPF group and Mahinda Rajapaksa group have also remembered the PC election. Please don’t deprive people of their right to vote because of your power struggle.” he furthered.

Former Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faizer Mustapha joining the debate stated that going back to the earlier electoral system will only drag the country back to the same old corrupt voting system. He emphasized the importance of retaining the 25% female representation, whatever the amendments introduced to the electoral system. He also pointed out President Maithripala Sirisena entertains the wish of holding PC elections as soon as possible.

UNP MP Mujibar Rahuman speaking on the debate topic stated that if the Opposition believes that there is political instability in the country, they should agree to hold a Presidential election. “We do not believe that there is a political instability. It is you people who are saying that there is. So if there is such an instability, lets go for a Presidential election. We don’t mind holding the elections according to the old electoral system,” he said.

The Adjournment Debate abruptly ended as there was no quorum in the House. The last to speak was UPFA MP D.V. Chanaka.

MP Chanaka said that there had been a previous opinion that President Maithripala Sirisena was afraid of elections and therefore delayed the holding of Provincial polls.

“Now, it is proven that it is not the President but the UNP which is afraid of elections. The topic of elections for the UNP is like kerosene to the rat-snakes. The UNP, like the rat-snake leaving the scent of kerosene, runs away from the problem. For example in this very same debate they raised the quorum issue to disrupt the debate. They are afraid of the debate. Their objective is to suspend the debate in the middle of it so that the government could excuse itself without giving valid reason and response to our questions. If they are this much afraid of a debate on PC election, how frightened should they be to actually hold the election?” MP Chanaka having to stop in the middle of his speech questioned.


President failed in his Constitutional duty – Anura Kumara

President Maithripala Sirisena, who is the head of Parliament, has failed to comply with his constitutional duty by not attending Parliament for over three months, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said.

“The constitutional provisions stipulate that the President should attend Parliamentary sessions at least once in three months if he is unable to do so more frequently due to his duties. But President Sirisena attended Parliament sittings on October 12 last year, over three months ago. It is a violation of the stipulations of the Constitution,” the JVP leader said.

“The President is duty bound to attend parliamentary sessions and due to his busy schedule, provisions have been made allowing him the leverage to attend Parliament at least once in three months if he is unable to do it on a regular basis.

It is over three months now and it is evident that the President has no regard for the parliamentary procedures,” Dissanayake said.

Referring the question to the Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, the JVP Leader questioned his position on this matter, and demanded to know the reasons that the President had disregarded the parliamentary regulations.

Leader of the House, Public Enterprise Development, Upcountry Heritage and Kandy Development Minister Lakshman Kiriella said he would inform the President about this matter highlighted by the JVP and get his response.

The JVP leader brought the issue as the Police Department comes under the purview of the President and he had questioned to be raised in Parliament regarding ‘Bata’ payment to police officers.

“Who would respond to my questions?” he asked.

Minister Kiriella said he will respond to the questions for the President.


House sittings suspended due to lack of quorum

Parliament sittings were suspended prematurely yesterday due to a lack of quorum.

Government MPs raised the quorum requirement three times while a debate on a motion taken at the adjournment time moved by the Opposition

The motion for the debate on the delay of holding Provincial Council polls was moved by UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma. Time had been allocated for the debate till 7.30 pm, but the proceedings ended around 4.38 pm.

While the debate was in progress, UNP Puttalam District Hector Appuhamy raised the lack of quorum issue first around 1.53pm but after ringing of the quorum bell it was found that there were enough number of MPs to proceed and the debate continued.

A couple of hours later UNP Digamadulla District MP M.I.M Mansoor again raised the quorum issue around 2.59 pm but the result was same with the previous time and debate resumed.

However, at around 4.38 pm, Kalutara District UNP MP Lakshman Ananda Wijemanne raised the lack of quorum for the third time. At the time, UNP Kegalle District MP Dr.Thusitha Wijemanna was in the Chair and UPFA Hambantota District MP D.V. Chanaka was speaking.

In response to the call on lack of quorum in the House, presiding member Dr.Wijemanna rang the quorum bell and it could summon only 18 MPs, one less than the quorum requirement. To continue to the sittings, the present of at least 20 MPs including the presiding member is required as the quorum.

As there was no quorum, presiding member Dr. Wijemanna adjourned sittings till 1 pm February 5.


Sumanthiran elected Public Finance Committee Chairman

TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran has been elected to the post of Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance in Parliament.

He was elected to the post when the committee met at the Parliament complex yesterday. The committee comprises MPs Susil Premajayantha, Bandula Guanwardena, Keheliya Rambukwella, Susantha Punchinilame, Bimal Ratnayake, Lakshman Wijemanne, Mailwaganam Thilakaraja, Mayantha Dissanayake, Mujibur Rahuman, Wijepala Hettiarachchi, Ashu Marasinghe and Mohamed Ismail.


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