Parliament | Daily News


Supreme Court competent to look into war crimes:Bimal

The Supreme Court, with the recent ruling against the decision to dissolve Parliament, has proven that there is no necessity for establishing an International Court to look into alleged war crimes committed by the Armed Forces during the war time in Sri Lanka, JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake yesterday said. By staying firm against a decision by the Executive Presidency in the country, the Supreme Court has proven that it is perfectly capable of probing into the alleged war crimes and do justice for people, Rathnayake pointed out.

“By the recent ruling given by the Supreme Court, we have got out of an international trap. The SC has proven that it has the capacity, independence and moral right to probe these alleged war crimes without the intervention of an International Court,” Rathnayake further said.

Rathnayake also requested the Speaker to see that the Supreme Court decision against the dissolution of Parliament made available in Sinhala and Tamil languages. “People are now interested in knowing about the Constitution. They would wish to read the SC ruling as well. The decision is only available in English.” Rathnayake said.

Rathnayake observed that economic experts should accurately calculate the losses incurred by the country due to the recent political coup. “Just like Mahinda Rajapaksa is trying to justify whatever he does with the victory in the war, now the UNP is trying to justify everything using the political coup. We should not allow that,” he added.

Meanwhile, Rathnayake said that the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna refrained from supporting in favour of the Vote on Account presented by the government, as it had taken the form of a mini-budget that contains financial allocations for all projects supported by the UNP. If the Vote on Account only includes salary payments and other such necessities, we would have supported it, but it is not the case anymore, he observed.

The JVP does not approve of the restarting of the same old projects initiated by the UNP, Rathnayake pointed out. “We have never voted in favour of any of the Budgets presented by the UNP, but Mahinda Rajapaksa did so,” he pointed out.

Rathnayake said that the Vote on Account is a result of the recent political coup initiated by President Maithripala Sirisena, together with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He said that the country had to undergo an economic crisis due to this move.

Rathnayake also criticized Rajapaksa, his supporters and some media stations who were supportive of Rajapaksa for developing false theories on the suspension of Standing Orders. “When they were unable to get their personal political aspirations, they make up false views on suspending the Standing Orders. Even today, we have suspended the SO. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his henchmen were here. Did they question him about suspending the SO?” Rathnayake questioned.

Rathnayake also said that both the UNP and the UPFA governments should be responsible for the poor living conditions of the people. Referring to a recent report, Rathnayake said the level of indebtedness among the people have increased. “In Urban areas, indebtedness is around 41.7%, in the rural areas it is 61% and among theplantation community it is 73%. All former governments should be responsible for this predicament,” Rathnayake pointed out.

MR warns government not to be 100% certain of being in power

“We as politicians have no excuse if we are unable to reduce the cost of living,” Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. While pointing out that there are families who take only one meal per day, Rajapaksa urged that prices of essential items be decreased.

Rajapaksa also pointed out that a government does not need to follow every instruction issued by the International Monetary Fund. He said that it is important for the present government to maintain a people-friendly economic policy. Rajapaksa accused that fuel prices were not reduced until he, as the then Prime Minister, took a decision to decrease fuel prices and remove the VAT.

Meanwhile, speaking of the recent tense political situation, Rajapaksa denied that there was a Constitutional coup in the country. Rajapaksa also told the government not to be 100% certain about being in power, as the people would rise against its economic policy which is not a people-friendly one.

Rajapaksa also said that he will analyze the presented Vote on Account and express his point of view soon.

JVP criticises attempt to form National Government

JVP Leader Anura Dissanayake yesterday in Parliament criticized the attempt to form a National Government between the UNF and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in order to increase the number of ministries to 35.

He also questioned under what Constitutional provisions Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe sent a list of 35 ministers to the President when the 19th Amendment clearly restricts the number of ministries to 30.

“The SLMC has only one member. Other SLMC MPs represent the UNF. Premier Wickremesinghe is trying to interpret the Constitution in a way advantageous to him by using its loopholes. This is what President Maithripala Sirisena also did. Premier Wickremesinghe, who appeared as the guardian of democracy over the past two months, has also violated the Constitution,” he remarked.

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that legal advice of the Attorney General has been sought in that regard. MP Dissanayake replied that it was the same AG who argued in the Court a few days ago that the President’s dissolution of Parliament was legal.

Country’s problem due to national leaders trying to ensure political future: Hakeem

Commending the Finance Minister for coming up with a vote on account within a very short span of time to cover the Government’s expenses for the next few months, MP Rauf Hakeem said having endured 50 days of unnecessary crisis created by the unconstitutional actions of the important officer bearers of the institutions of this country, the Government has been pushed into a situation of having to come up with a vote on account to cover all such follies.

“In this situation, we need to position ourselves in order to move away from foreign borrowings as far as possible in the long term, by attracting non-debt creating foreign exchange inflows through exporting of goods and services and foreign direct investments by adopting a national policy which would be conducive in achieving a sustainable current account deficit or a current account surplus in the balance of payments of this country. This challenge is not easy challenge for the Finance Minister,” he said, adding that the Finance Minister has ample political experience to present a challenging budget for the next year, as it is an election year.

He noted that everyone expects a sunshine budget, but he is sure the Finance Minister will pull out a few rabbits out of his hat. “He can be a magician and we are all awaiting to see how many rabbits he could pull out of his hat.”

Hakeem added that the problem facing the country today is that all three national leaders are all trying to ensure their own political future. “Mahinda Rajapaksa wants the Executive Presidency abolished, because he cannot contest again. Ranil Wickremesinghe is not a national leader who would engage in an irrational political campaign. He is a very rational leader and won’t go on this sentimental, emotional nationalistic bandwagons and then get into power. Due to that reason, he has paid a heavy price and at the national elections he had pushed others to the fore and had been in the driving seat getting them to win elections. First, he failed with Sarath Fonseka and then though he succeeded in bringing the President to power, due to the recent happenings, that too had turned into a failure. He too has this problem and perhaps he too has this desire to abolish the presidential system. President Maithripala Sirisena is in another dilemma. He started off saying that he will not contest for the second term, but halfway through he entertained ideas of contesting again. First he thought the UNP will accommodate him again and subsequently, he fell onto the lap of Mahinda Rajapaksa and perhaps expected him to nominate him for Presidential candidacy.”

The Constitution could not be considered in order to ensure the future of single politicians, however nationalistic they may be, said Hakeem. “We need to have a broad look at it.

This is a sacred document and you need to have an overall constitutional reform. That’s the challenge we have. Amidst this, Minister Mangala Samaraweera has this problem of having to balance everything and present a proper budget next year.”

He pointed out that following the country’s graduation from a lower middle income economy in 2010, the availability of concessional financing began to decline rapidly as a percentage of total foreign debt. Concessional debt declined to 48.8 % in 2015 from over 90% in 2007.

The lower availability of concessional financing prompted the country to access international markets by issuing international sovereign bonds and since 2007, Sri Lanka has been active in the international capital markets to meet its financial needs which had made the country more open to international investors. “This has also increased the attention towards sovereign ratings. We become subject to fluctuating sovereign ratings due to our political instability.

The people who created instability and are now seated as honourable members in the Opposition, should realize that the folly that they engaged in has resulted in a serious situation for the economy.”

UNP should not opt for a national government: Harsha

“It is my personal point of view that we should not opt for a coalition government as we did earlier,” UNP MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said yesterday.

He pointed out that the Cabinet should not exceed 30 and the Government should never go for a large Cabinet as it is not the will of the people.

Dr. De Silva also said that it is alright to allow MPs of the Opposition to support the present government and those who join should not be looking for advantages.

“We saw how some of those people who held ministerial portfolios in our Coalition Government acted when they crossed over. They did not respect Parliament or the Constitution. They were not interested in the country, but in their own agendas,” De Silva pointed out.

Dr. De Silva urged that the policy clash between the Government and the President should be resolved through discussion.

He pointed out that while the capital expenditure and the recurrent expenditure amounted to Rs. 79,000 million, Rs. 97,000 million should be allocated to service debts.

He pointed out that it is important to expand the foreign market in order to get out of this humongous debt trap the country is in.

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