Joint Opposition withdraws from sub-committees vested with drafting new constitution

Joint Opposition withdraws from sub-committees vested with drafting new constitution

By Tharushan Fernando

16 Feb, 2017 | 8:55 pm

The Joint Opposition announced today that its Members of Parliament will be stepping down from the sub-committees appointed for the drafting of a new constitution.

A Constitutional Assembly consisting of the 225 Members of Parliament was established to draft a new constitution. A Constitutional Steering Committee of 21 members, headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and six sub-committees were appointed to create a draft amendment.

The six sub-committees include committees on Fundamental Rights, The Judiciary, Law and Order, Public Finance, Public Service and Centre-Periphery Relations.While each sub-committee consists of 11 members, the reports of these sub-committees were presented in Parliament recently.

The sub-committee branch has come to an agreement that all powers relating to finances will be vested with Parliament, according to UPFA Parliamentarian, Bandula Gunewardena.

bandualHe pointed out that 18% of the government’s annual total income and debt should be allocated for the provincial councils and 7% should be allocated for local government authorities and these should be monitored by the Finance Commission while all activities should be subject to Parliament’s approval.

The sub-committee branch recommended that a separate paragraph be included into this constitutional amendment which would create the powers to carry out the audits of state corporations, state companies, cooperatives and local government bodies which come under the Central Government.

Gunewardena added that there was another sub-committee on Center-Periphery Relations with MP Siddarthan as its Chairman, and if a completely different set of recommendations are being presented by another sub-committee it would mean they are playing hidden games.
“As the Chairman I will no longer contribute to the process of formulating the constitution. MP Keheliya Rambukwella and Tharaka Balasuriya are with me. A much larger number of MPs have served in these sub-committees. They are also still serving in these committees”,  said UPFA Parliamentarian Bandula Gunewardena.

However MPs of the Joint Opposition who are members of the Constitutional Steering Committee have decided not to step down from the committee.

DilanSLFP Spokesperson, State Min. Dilan Perera charged that joint Opposition members of the Constitutional Council Sub committees have stepped down.however they will not step down from the Constitutional Steering Committee.

“So the bus of the sub-committees has already left. The sub-committee reports came into Parliament after they got together and presented reasonable arguments where their views were also obtained. So, such statements which are usually made for political gain are sometimes made because of their ignorance regarding the objectives we have as a political party ..”, said State Minister Dilan Perera.