Written by Staff Writer
21 Sep, 2017 | 10:23 pm
The Interim Report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly, which was appointed to draft a new Constitution, was tabled in Parliament by its Chairman, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today.
The interim report says there is a General Consensus that the Executive Presidency as it exists today, be abolished.
The Steering Committee report says while abolishing the Executive Presidency, the President should be elected by Parliament for a fixed term of office.
The report also considers the following three options with regard to the process for the appointment of the Prime Minister.
1. Direct election of the Prime Minister
2. Pre-nomination of the Prime Minister
3. Westminster System
It adds, in the event a system of pre-nomination of a candidate prior to election is adopted, any political party may nominate a candidate for election as the Prime Minister or a political party may nominate the nominee of any other political party or group.
At the end of the poll and the declaration of results, the Election Commission will determine whether or not a candidate for Prime Minister has received pre-commitments from a majority of all elected MPs.
If the Election Commission determines that no candidate for Prime Minister has received a majority of pre-commitments from elected MPs on the above bases, the Prime Minister will be elected at a special session of Parliament.
The election will be conducted by the ‘exhaustive ballot system’, which is designed to produce ultimately a candidate with an absolute majority of more than 50%.
Under this scheme, if no candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round, then the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated and excluded from further ballots. The process of exclusion and re-ballot continues until one candidate has an absolute majority.
The Interim Report further says parliament shall not be dissolved within the first four and a half years, unless the House requests early dissolution by a resolution passed by not less than two thirds of the number of members including those not voting or the government is unable to secure the passage of the Annual Appropriations (Budget) Bill after two attempts.
The Prime Minister and government, shall not be removed from office during the first two years of its term except in the case, the House, by a vote passed by not less than two-thirds of the members including those not voting, expresses that it has no confidence in the government or the government is unable to secure the passage of the Annual Appropriations (Budget) Bill after three attempts.
The Steering Committee’s Interim Report goes on to say the main unit for the devolution of powers shall be the province adding that the Constitution recognises the Northern and Eastern Provinces as a single Province.
The report says that the Constitution should not provide for merger of provinces and adds that the existing provisions in the constitution relating to the possibility of two or more Provinces forming a single unit, requires a referendum of the people of each of the provinces concerned.
The interim report adds, it shall be ensured that the final outcome of the proposed mixed system of the First Past the Post system and the Proportionate Representation system for the election of Members of Parliament should be on the proportionate system.
The First Chamber of Parliament consists of 233 members with 60% of the members on the basis of First Past the Post and 40% as compensatory seats required to ensure that the final result reflects proportionality.
It is suggested that the Second Chamber should consist of 55 members with 45 drawn from the Provincial Councils.
The Second Chamber shall not have the power to Veto Ordinary Legislation, but may refer Ordinary Legislation back to Parliament for reconsideration.
After Bills are placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, they shall be referred to the Second Chamber to obtain its views, if any, prior to the Second Reading.
The Interim Report says that Sri Lanka is a free, sovereign and independent Republic, consisting of the institutions of the centre and of the Provinces which shall exercise power as laid down in the Constitution and be considered a Unitary State.
The Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly, Chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe consists of members, Nimal Siripala de Silva, R. Sampanthan, Rauff Hakeem, Dinesh Gunawardena, Lakshman Kiriella, Douglas Devananda, Susil Premajayantha, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Rishad Bathiudeen, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Bimal Rathnayake, D.M. Swaminathan, M.A. Sumanthiran, Mano Ganesan, Prasanna Ranatunga, Malik Samarawickrama, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, Dilan Perera and Dr. Thusitha Wijemanna.
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