SJB says move indicates further deterioration of SLPP

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Foreign Minister Professor GL Peiris has denied accusations that the sudden prorogation of Parliament was intended to end inquiries by parliamentary oversight committees, the Public Enterprises Committee (COPE), the Public Accounts Committee (COPA) and the Public Finance Committee (COPF).

The media raised the issue during the regular weekly cabinet briefing at the SLPP office in Battaramulla.

The media questioned whether President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to prorogue parliament was influenced by high-profile inquiries carried out in particular by the COPE chaired by SLPP national list MP Prof Charitha Herath.

When asked if Professor Herath would be kicked out of COPE when the new session begins on January 18, 2022, Professor Peiris, who is also the chair of the ruling SLPP, said the team composition could be changed. Prof Peiris said parliament would decide on the chairman of the oversight committee.

In addition to COPE, COPA and COPF were chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitharana, member of the SLPP National List, and SLPP legislator from Kurunegala District, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

Following COPE’s damning disclosure of the fraudulent handover from the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) located in Malabe to a group of individuals, SLPP lawmaker Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa, PC , asked the Supreme Court to recover the institution. . COPE has tackled a series of high-profile cases including the Board of Investment, ICTA, Sri Lanka Cricket as well as Litro Gas and Litro Terminal. COPE overthrew Litro’s senior management, blocking government audits for a two-year period.

Pressed to explain the abolition of the three committees, Prof. Peiris stressed that the decision was not taken in a hurry. Dismissing the idea that prorogation was a unique situation, the distinguished former law professor explained that all previous presidents have exercised their constitutional power to prorogue Parliament.

Pointing out that the President acted under Article 70 (subsection 01) of the Constitution, Prof Peiris said the decision was subject to Article 70 (subsection 03) that Parliament should be summoned within two months.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has set January 18 for the next sittings, delaying the debates for just a week, Prof. Peiris said. The SLPP chairman pointed out that following the vote on the 2022 budget, Parliament announced that the House would meet on January 11.

Prof. Peiris stressed that there was no rule that the three committees should function without any changes during the entire five-year legislature.

Former COPE chief professor Herath declined to comment on the ongoing controversy at this time. The island asked for his answer Monday night and yesterday.

Asked whether the government’s decision was influenced by JVP chief Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who filed the agreement between the government and New Fortress Energy Sri Lanka Power Holding LLC for the ‘contract of sale and d purchase for the purchase of 40% of the issued share capital of West Coast. Power (Private) Limited, Professor Peiris said the issue in question could be raised again in Parliament. The new session will not prevent those interested in the transaction from raising it again after Jan. 18, Minister Peiris said.

When asked if Parliament was prorogued, especially to remove the three oversight committees as speculated by the opposition and other interested parties, former COPF chairman, lawmaker Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, said he too was aware of the speculation but could not comment on the matter. handy right now.

Former COPA President Prof Tissa Vitharana said his organization has made a real effort to increase government revenue by streamlining customs, internal taxes and excise. Instead of taking concrete steps to rectify serious irregularities in the configuration of revenue collection, Parliament was prorogued, bringing to an end rather important work undertaken not only by COPA but also by two other committees. The former minister said he has no idea why the president prorogued parliament.

Responding to another question, National List MP Prof Vitharana said oversight committees could only report waste, corruption and irregularities and that it would be the responsibility of the ministers concerned to take action. corrective actions.

Prof Vitharana said they were quite surprised by the sudden prorogation.

SJB MP Rohini Kaviratne said the SLPP government was in such a bad position that it could not be saved by proroguing Parliament for two months. The national economy had deteriorated to such an extent that they would not even be able to understand the situation when the new session opened, the Matale District MP said, urging the government to admit that all his efforts had failed. The truth could not be suppressed by proroguing parliament and silencing member-led oversight committees, the former UNPer said.

She said the government had to explain why Parliament was prorogued amid deepening unrest over the ruin of the Maha season, continued gas cylinder blasts, the debt crisis and disruption of fertilizers and other essentials.

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