Parliament | Daily News


Measures to complete construction of Chunnakam PO, PMG Office - Dinesh

Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that arrangements could be made to complete the construction of the Chunnakam Post Office and the Post Master General’s (PMG) Office.

He gave this assurance to TNA-MP Dharmalingam Siddharthan who raised this issue in Parliament yesterday.

Siddharthan pointed out that although the then Jaffna District Secretary had informed the Secretary to the Ministry that construction work of the Chunnakam Post Office and the official residence of the Post Master General had been completed, the work had not been completed. He added that the National Audit Office had pointed out that its procurement process was flawed. Although the issue was referred to the Minister of Mass Media and Information, the Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, Dinesh Gunawardena responding to the question said that the task of one million rupees could be found somehow to complete this project.

He noted that the Chunnakam Post Office was as important as Jaffna and assured that the funds required for the completion of construction would somehow be provided.


Opposition parties trying to sabotage Govt’s programme - Lanza

Parliamentarian Nimal Lanza says Opposition parties are focused on sabotaging the Government’s programme to gain political mileage.

“The main crisis is the dollar crisis. Therefore, the party leaders must get together and give their suggestions on ways of finding foreign exchange.

If there is a crisis regarding gas, then the Parliamentary Select Committee can intervene and give a clear verdict on how it can be resolved. If additional charges have been made, then come up with a solution to it. Instead, when we come to Parliament and make all these allegations and when there is no gas, milk powder, fuel etc. tomorrow, then it’s inevitable that people will take to the streets.”

He said it is not the time to play politics but to work collectively to find answers to the issues at hand. Lanza said that he feels for the pain and sufferings that the people have to endure. “We intervened and held discussions with the Opposition to establish an All Party Government.

Then, what did the Opposition say? They refused. We even held talks with Anura Kumara Dissanayake and he too said he will not be part of an All Party Government.”

Therefore, he said that if any Member of Parliament has a plan or a proposal to resolve the current crisis affecting the country, then they must come forward and say they have a proposal.

“Instead of doing that there is no point in coming to Parliament to simply shout for no reason and create further turmoil.

If anyone has a viable plan to resolve these issues and can come up with a plan to ensure uninterrupted electricity, gas, milk powder etc, we will raise our hands without any conditions. Instead there is no point in coming here and stirring up sentiments and rousing the people.”


Govt. does not have proper plan to resolve crisis - Wimal

The newly appointed Prime Minister has no viable plan to resolve the economic crisis in the country, Leader of the National Freedom Front MP Wimal Weerawansa said in Parliament yesterday (21).

Weerawansa also alleged that several Parliamentarians in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Group of 40 independent MPs, have misled the President on appointing Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister.

Weerawansa pointed out, “Few months ago, we, as a group of representatives from 11 political parties, predicted this economic crisis for a considerable period. However, we did not receive any positive response to that. The only thing that happened was that our ministerial portfolios were ripped off. This is where the economic crisis started to turn into a political crisis as well. Even after this incident, we proposed to establish a National Council and an Interim Government to resolve this political crisis until we can hold a Parliamentary Election but our cries were ignored.”

Weerawansa observed, “Some MPs of the Group of 40 independent Parliamentarians and in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party opted for secretive negotiations and finally as a result, the President ended up appointing Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister.

The MPs who supported the proposal to appoint Wickremesinghe as the PM are the ones who are now holding Ministerial portfolios. These MPs misled the President and made him appoint a worthless person as the Prime Minister of this country. Even in that situation, we did not criticize this appointment because it would be unbecoming of us to criticize every move made by the Government to resolve this crisis. Yet, we expected the newly appointed Prime Minister to have a clear-cut plan to resolve the economic crisis of the country. Unfortunately, he has no such plan at all. He is only repeating the issues we have. We do not need that, we need solutions to these issues. The PM seems to have none. The public, especially small and medium size enterprise owners thought that Wickremesinghe had sound international connections, but it seems not the case either. What is the use of holding Ministerial portfolios if we cannot provide education to our children, or if we cannot meet the fuel demand? This Government does not have any proper plan to resolve the crisis we are undergoing.”


Parliament has become a place for mere talk only - Dayasiri

Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara said that while people are of the view that Parliament is a place where people’s problems are being discussed and solutions found, it is on the contrary, a place where only both sides talk.

“It has become a place for mere talk only. The people of this country also are of the view that Parliament meets every day on the promise that their issues would be discussed and resolved, but nothing happens. But that needs to be done by the Cabinet and the Government. The issue here is that people believe that every time Parliament meets, they will receive solutions to their problems.” Therefore, he said that either Parliamentary sittings should be suspended until the issues facing the people can be resolved, or else Parliament should not be convened at all.

He said the reason he is saying this is because eventually all 225 Parliamentarians have to hear the blame from the people. Referring to an allegation made by Nagananda Kodituwakku recently regarding corruption during procurement of gas shipments, he said in the end all 225 are accused of robbing and scamming public money. “We have not robbed. Neither have we had deals to purchase gas and pilfered any money. The gas deal was done by the Cabinet. All 225 MPs were not involved in this. Either, the Prime Minister must come to Parliament and explain why they purchased gas at a higher rate. Social media sites are slandering all 225 MPs. Everyone in Parliament is not involved in it. But, the Cabinet must give an explanation as to why they purchased gas at USD 129 when it was available at USD 96. Otherwise, we will be all held responsible for it.” He said if the Government is unable to come up with solutions to the issues facing the people, then Parliament must not be convened.


MP Weerasekara accuses TNA MPs of disrupting Buddhist ceremony at Mullaithivu

Parliamentarian Sarath Weerasekara said in Parliament yesterday that the Constitution specifies that Buddhism should be protected and respected, adding that the majority Buddhist population has always respected and allowed all other religions to exist in this country.

“Despite being a Buddhist country, there are so many Hindu Kovils, Mosques and Churches throughout the country. However, some of these separatist Northern politicians are continuously desecrating Buddhism and don’t extend that respect to Buddhism. Recently, a Northern political leader objected to a Buddha statue being constructed at Nagadeepa. This sort of ill-treatment continues to take place in the North.”

Referring to an incident that took place in Mullaitivu, he said “A week ago during the ceremony to deposit Sacred Relics at the Kurundanshoka Chaitya in Mullaitivu, two TNA-MPs had come there with a group of thugs and sabotaged the whole event. In a Buddhist country, if these Tamil Alliance MPs are not allowing Buddhism to be nurtured, then this matter must be brought to the notice of Parliament.”

He said that during the ceremony to deposit the Sacred Relics at the Chaitya in the presence of around 100 Buddhist Monks, two TNA MPs Selvarasa Gajendran and Vinoradha Linghum had disrupted the event and had not allowed them even to offer a flower. “Hence, we vehemently condemn this event. When pregnant mothers’ stomachs were split open and killed in Gonagala village, the Sinhala people did not harm the Tamils and even the Vale Cart procession that took place in Colombo. The Tamil Alliance is Prabhakaran’s political party. Even when Prabhakaran was cutting the Sinhala villages into bits, the Tamils in Colombo were not harmed and their rights were protected. Therefore, they should be ashamed to have disrupted the event at Mullaitivu and for not allowing the Mahanayakes’ to even offer a flower at the historic temple.” He warned that the patience and compassion of the Sinhalese should not be taken as a sign of weakness and that there is a limit to their patience.


Tourists reluctant to visit Sri Lanka due to fuel crisis, street protests - Minister Wijeyadasa

Tourists are reluctant to visit Sri Lanka due to the fuel crisis and the street protests held in the country, Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said in Parliament yesterday (21).

Rajapaksa noted that at the beginning of the year, the daily inbound number of tourists was 5,000, which has now dropped to 800.

Minister Rajapakshe also stated that the 53 independent MPs in Parliament tried their level best to establish an All-Party Interim Government to find solutions to the economic and political crisis prevailing in the country.

Minister Rajapakshe rejected the allegation that he and other independent MPs who have accepted ministerial portfolios are opportunists as suggested by some. “This is a time of national crisis. We are holding these positions because it is our responsibility,” he noted.

Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe pointed out, “I suggested an All-Party Government in April, even before the people took to streets to protest against the Government. During the 2015 Yahapalana Government, we attempted to create a strong position for the country in the international arena by passing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. When the 20th Amendment was passed, when tax relief was given and fertilizer policy was imposed, we saw this crisis looming large. In media discussions I had in last November and December, I predicted that our economy will collapse by April 2022 and that we will have to face a political crisis followed by.”

Minister Rajapakshe observed, “The group of 53 independent MPs tried our best to resolve the political crisis that was taking place in the country. While discussing the matter with the pro-Government groups, our main focus was on the Opposition. We requested the Opposition Leader to take up the responsibility of the government and the Prime Minister post, along with our support.

We requested Sajith Premadasa to be the Prime Minister of an Interim or All-Party Government. We also spoke to the President regarding this matter. The President in fact agreed and requested Sajith Premadasa to take up the post but the request was turned down. We were ready to make any dedication to establish an All-Party Interim Government. When our attempt failed, we requested the Opposition to submit their solutions to the matters of economic and political crisis.

The Opposition said that the Executive President must step down. We pointed out that we need to abolish the post but considering the present situation of the country, a referendum is out of the question.”

Rajapakshe further said, “The Opposition also suggested a No Confidence Motion against the Government and a General Election as ways to get out of the political crisis. However, none of these suggestions was practical. So we told the President that he should appoint a Prime Minister as the Opposition Leader is not ready to take up the Prime Minister position. We informed the President that we will support anyone who would be appointed.”


Steps to reduce number of copies of reports submitted to Parliament

The Office of the Leader of the House has taken steps to reduce the number of copies of reports submitted to Parliament by all Government agencies, including Ministries, Departments, Corporations and Statutory Institutions.

Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena said yesterday (21) that the decision was taken after a lengthy discussion at the Parliamentary Committee on the Ministry of Finance’s presentation on reducing Government expenditure due to the shortage of paper in the country and the rising cost of imports.

Accordingly, the Office of the Leader of the House has decided to obtain only 12 copies of the Reports of Government Institutions to be presented to Parliament in all three languages and in two CDs in all three languages.

Earlier, 350 books in one language were handed over to Parliament in all three languages. These reports were later printed in one book in all three languages which brought out 22 books and 248 CDs in all three languages.


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