Parliament | Daily News



Annual reports reflect previous government’s feeble economic policies – Prof. Bandara

The annual report of the Central Bank, the performance report of the Finance Ministry and the mid-year fiscal report, which have been presented to Parliament in August, 2020 reflects the feeble economic policies by the previous government and repercussions of them, Prof. Ranjith Bandara said.

Prof, Bandara was moving the adjournment motion on the annual report of the Central Bank, the performance report of the Finance Ministry and the mid-year fiscal report.

The reports scientifically analyse and recount the major economic setbacks suffered by the country’s economy during 2015-2019 because of the unhealthy economic policies, weak management and poor decision making of the previous government, he said.

Prof. Bandara said that the reports can be sourced to design the future economic policies and strategies to be followed by the Government.

He proposed the House to analyse the reports and create policies that would strengthen ‘Saubhagye Dakma’, the most promising election manifesto of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The adjournment motion was seconded by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Gampaha District MP Sahan Pradeep Withana.

MP Withana said that the economy was severely affected by the poor decision making and management of the previous government, Easter Sunday terror carnage and the COVID-19 pandemic. MP Withana said that during the previous rule, the financial assistance directed to the private sector was lessened. He added that investors and entrepreneurs lost confidence because of the lack of political stability as well.

MP Withana said that the Government’s revenue has decreased from Rs. 29 BN in 2019, in comparison to 2018. He said that the revenue on tax has increased whereas the revenue other than tax has decreased by Rs. 51 BN. MP Withana said that the Government expenditure has increased from 8.2 per cent in 2019 in comparison to 2018. He said that the Government has given relief to the public by decreasing the fuel prices. He said that within the first four months of 2020, three state banks have recorded profits. The Ports Authority has displayed impressive achievements during a short time, he said.

MP Withana stated that several institutions have not produced their annual reports for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 to the CBSL. The institutes include the National Insurance Corporation, Electricity Board, Lanka Sugar, Sathosa, Lottery Board and Ceylon Fisheries Corporation, he said.

Point of Order cannot be raised over Premalal’s presence in House – Dinesh

Foreign Minister and Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday said that the Parliamentarians could not raise a Point of Order on the presence of Premalal Jayasekara as he had taken oaths before the Speaker in accordance with the Court of Appeal order.

He said that the members only could raise the presence of another member in Parliament only by way of a substantive motion. He added if it is a legal matter, it is up to Court to make the decision and the members should go before Court.

He made this observation in Parliament yesterday in response to the point of order raised by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella challenging taking oaths by Premalal Jayasekara as an MP. Jayasekara took oaths amidst the objections by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarians by wearing black shawls and making various remarks.

Minister Gunawardena said that Premalal Jayasekara having contested and won at the last General Election was gazetted by the Election Commission as an MP. Thereafter, in accordance with the Court order, he came before the Speaker and took oaths as a Parliamentarian.

Thereafter, the other members have no right to raise his presence by way of a point of order. Only by way of a Substantive Motion his presence could be questioned by other members and that is the standing order.

“There is no substantive motion,” Minister Gunawardena said. “Every member who has taken oaths before the Speaker and taken the seat enjoys equal responsibilities and rights of all the Parliamentarians. Therefore, I request the Chair not to allow any to make remarks that tantamount to Contempt of Parliament,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella raising his Point of Order said that one who was sentenced to death attempted to take oaths as an MP. He added that there is a precedent to this incident in 2010 when Sarath Fonseka was imprisoned and his seat in Parliament fell vacant. On that occasion, Professor G L Peiris said that the Speaker had no discretion at such a moment and the seat of the member shall become vacant. “The Speaker, therefore, has to inform the Election Commission that the seat of the member has fallen vacant.”

SJB MP Sarath Fonseka said that a convict who is sentenced to death cannot function as an MP and vote in Parliament. “It is in the Constitution as well. I was imprisoned, while I was an MP and today, one was sentenced earlier took oaths. The order says that it was the discretion of the Speaker to allow him to sit or cast vote. “Do you allow him?” he queried the chair.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that he would quote a section of the Court Order. “It is the view of this Court that the petitioner would enjoy all the rights of an elected member of Parliament,” the Speaker said. “So we will have to adhere to it.”

MP Harin Fernando said that Court also says the question of sitting and voting does not arise with Court. The Speaker permitting this swearing in is setting a wrong precedence. “I also request the Chair to allow those who were sentenced to death to go home once a week,” MP Fernando requested.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananada Aluthgamage raising a point of order said that the Speaker has the discretion to act in accordance with the Order on Premalal Jayasekara’s matter. “But those who object today heard cases at Temple Trees. Ranil Wickremesinghe heard the cases. Those members have no moral right to talk about the Court,” he said.

Shehan Semasinghe said that the Opposition members are not shocked not because of Premalal Jayasekara taking oaths but because the House has resolved to debate the Central Bank Fraud committed during Good Governance tenure.

Thereafter, the Speaker moved the House to proceed with day’s business. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and SJB MPs threw their black shawls to the well of the House and left the Chamber in protest of the decision by Parliament to allow Premalal Jayasekara to take oath in line with the Court of Appeal order.

However, none of the TNA or NPP members joined objecting Premalal Jayasekara taking oaths as an MP. After several minutes, SJB MPs Lakshman Kiriella and Eran Wickremaratne were seen returning to their seats.

MP Premalal Jayasekera took a seat in the back row of the Government ranks and was seen observing the protest. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in the chamber several minutes after the new MP took his oath.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage raising again a Point of Order said that he brings the attention of the Chair to standing order 91 (e) which says a matter that is being heard before Court should not be presented before the House of Parliament. Therefore, the matters brought here by MPs Sarath Fonseka and Harin Fernando are wrong. “So, I request you to expunge them from the Hanzard,” Minister Aluthgamage said. “The imprisonment of Sarath Fonseka and Premalal Jayasekara are matters poles apart. Sarath Fonseka was sentenced by a Court Martial which could not be challenged before a Court. But Premalal Jayasekara was sentenced by a High Court which could be challenged before Superior Courts. The Speaker today acted in accordance with a Court of Appeal order. Hence SJB members attempted to convey a totally incorrect message to the public. We saw what the Ranil Wickremesinghe government did during the last five years. They heard cases before the Temple Trees. They talked to the judges and imprisoned the people,” Minister Aluthgamage said.

“We saw what Ranil Wickremesinghe said before the Presidential Commission. He said they had a separate committee to draft cases. “We saw Director General of Commission to Investigations on allegations of Bribery and Corruption. We saw what the Solicitor General said. The SJB is speaking of independence of Judiciary. Sarath Fonseka has forgotten his case. His son-in-law procured materials to the Army, while he was the Army Commander. It is totally illegal. That is why Court Martial sentenced him. The SJB is misleading the House of Parliament,” he said.

MP Uddhika brings maize to House for MPs’ lunch

Anuradhapura District MP Uddhika Premaratne had brought 10 kg of maize to Parliament yesterday to be cooked and served to the Members of Parliament at lunch as a substitute for imported dhal.

He said that the country spends a large amount of money to import dhal from India, but instead the country could alternate locally produced maize instead of dhal which would not only save money spent on importing dhal, but would also assist to uplift the local farmers.

Joining the adjournment motion debate on the annual report of the Central Bank, the performance report of the Ministry of Finance and the mid-year fiscal report in parliament yesterday, he said as an MP representing the people of Anuradhapura, it is saddening to note that today people in his district suffer without water, especially in Padaviya.

He said that despite almost 2,600 irrigation tanks, the farmers in Anuradhapura are struggling without water for their crops. He also noted that around two deaths are reported every week in the Anuradhapura District in elephant attacks. Therefore, he appealed to the President to focus attention on the plight of the people in Anuradhapura and look for a sustainable solution that would protect the lives of the people from the elephants and also to protect the elephants.

Full report on Bond Scam must be submitted to Parliament – Vasudeva

A full report on the losses incurred in the Cental Bank bond scam in 2015 must be submitted to the House, Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara yesterday said in Parliament. Nanayakkara also observed that the 2015 bond scam is one of the largest financial corruptions recorded in the country.

Minister Nanayakkara made these observations joining the adjournment debate on the annual report of the Central Bank, the performance report of the Finance ministry and the mid-year fiscal report.

“If calculations be made on the losses incurred by the Government when applying for foreign loans due to the scam, the amount would be impossible to recover,” the Minister said. Nanayakkara demanded that all accounts belonging to the culprits of the bond scam be confiscated.

Minister Nanayakkara said that increasing the manufacturing of dairy and sugar cane will cut down import expenses. “If import of flour be decreased, it would be more conducive to the economy,” he added.

To record a significant growth in country’s economy in post the COVID-19 pandemic era, strengthening local economy is vital, Minister Nanayakkara said.

Postal services in hill country will be improved – Viyalendran

Postal service in the Northern, Eastern and hill country regions will be improved, State Minister of Professional Development in Postal Services and Media S. Viyalendran said.

Joining the adjournment debate, State Minister Viyalendran said that many inactive post offices are in the Northern, Eastern and hill country regions.

Viyalendran said that the Government will take measures to reestablish these post offices and increase the efficiency of the postal service in the regions.

“Tourism industry was severely affected by the Easter Sunday attacks. Initially, the Central Bank bond scam too had a major impact on the economy. Then the economy was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has to face the outcomes of all these major economic setbacks. Despite these challenges the Government is on the right track to develop the country. We need to increase the efficiency of our public services including the services provided by the ministries and state ministries. The Government needs to cut down unnecessary expenses and direct such funds to development projects. As the State Minister responsible for the postal service, I would like to point out that under the purview of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella and under the directives of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, I am committed to decrease the expenses and increase the efficiency of postal service. Last year, we have recorded an expense of Rs. 1,4500 million and revenue of Rs. 8500 million. It means there is a loss of approximately Rs. 5000 million. We will rectify this. There are about 24,000 employees in the postal service and about 4000 post offices,” he said.

“Previous government said that it would generate 1 million jobs, but I wonder if they provided jobs even for 1,000 persons. However, the Government is successfully carrying out a project to provide jobs for 150,000 persons,” the State Minister said.

Central Bank report indicates massive drop in development after 2015 – SB

The Central Bank Report clearly indicates that the massive development rate achieved during 2005 since 1950 of the Sri Lankan economic history came to an abrupt halt in 2015 and perished since then until 2020, Nuwara Eliya District MP S. B. Dissanayake yesterday said.

He made this observation in Parliament joining the adjournment motion debate.

He said that although Anura Kumara Dissanayake criticised the investing money during the Ajith Nivard Cabral’s tenure in his capacity as the Central Governor, it is a matter of fact that at the end, the country earned a considerable profit. He added that anybody should accept that in share market matters, there are times of profits and losses.

He added that according to the Central Bank reports, it is clear that the per capita income in 1950 was USD 100 and rose only USD 1,000 by 2005. But the debt rate had increased from 17 per cent to 104 per cent.

“However, the development rate increased from 4.5 per cent to 7.6 per cent from 2005 to 2015. All this was achieved while defeating a terrorist organization which was led by a terrorist that the world said invincible. A world economic recess, global food crisis and many other challenges were faced by the same Government. However, the same rate was dropped to 2.7 per cent this year,” he said.

“The Easter Sunday attack too contributed to this drop of economic development rate. However, with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election, people had new hopes. As he had no power in Parliament, it is a barrier towards development. It was aggravated by the COVID 19 pandemic,” he said.



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