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Sunday, 27 March 2011

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Week in Parliament

Boost for Executive-Legislature ties

President Mahinda Rajapaksa depicting his commitment to take part in Parliament debates made a surprise visit to Parliament on Tuesday and addressed the House stressing the importance of creating a close rapport between the Executive and the Legislature.

The address by President Rajapaksa in Parliament is a clear indication to all Parliamentarians on his keen interest to participate in Parliamentary debates and uphold the democratic traditions of the House.

The President's address during a debate was significant because all former Presidents came to Parliament only to deliver Budget speeches. The President has thus fulfilled another pledge given to Parliament that he will attend Parliament sittings at least once every three months under the provisions of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution which was passed with over a two third majority in Parliament.

President in his speech informed the House of his genuine desire to develop a close relationship between the Executive and the Legislature similar to the relationship he maintains with his brother - Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa.

The President's address painted a clear picture on the developments achieved by the Government under Mahinda Chinthana during the past five years. The importance of making collaborative efforts in and outside Parliament to speed up development was the strong message given by the President to Parliamentarians.

The President highlighted the transformation made in both villages and cities owing to the sustainable peace achieved by the Government. The President showed the Government's commitment to provide equal benefits of development to the people in the North and the South.

The President said the confidence placed by the people in the Government at the Local Government polls clearly demonstrates their firm commitment to safeguard the benefits of development achieved.

President Rajapaksa informed the House that a vast majority of the people have given a strong message at the LG polls to act in an exemplary and dedicated manner for the country's development.

The President pointed out that certain irresponsible statements made by the Opposition to the international community may tarnish the good image of the country and requested them to engage in politics as matured politicians.

The leadership crisis in the UNP was again highlighted in the House on Wednesday due to certain remarks made by Senior Minister for Rural Affairs Athauda Seneviratne who commenced the debate on the Second Reading of the Excise (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Bill and three other orders under the Special Commodity Levy Act.

The Minister who glanced at UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera said friends of Sajith Premadasa have deserted him today. The Minister who commented on the severe electoral defeat faced by the UNP at the Local Government polls said the UNP has been able to win only nine Local Government bodies. They had never faced this kind of humiliating defeat.

Minister Seneviratne told the House the people in both towns and villages are not with the UNP. The UNP has been dragged into this situation due to the wrong policies followed. They acted to betray the country. The Minister in his speech accused the UNP leadership of sending letters to the EU, pressurising them to impose various restrictions on Sri Lanka.

Even today some UNP MPs go to London and hatch conspiracies against the country inciting those who attempt to create a separate State in Sri Lanka. No patriotic person will vote for the UNP under these circumstances. The UNP should change its present path and join hands with the Government to take the country forward.

UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera who responded to Minister Seneviratne's speech said it was as far apart as "Mahindagamanaya and Sri Lankan fisheries industry". The MP said Minister's speech is neither here nor there.

He said the Minister's speech is a clear reflection on the disappointment faced by the Senior Ministers. They come to Parliament and repeat an old story which is totally irrelevant to the subject matter of the debate.

Ports and Road Development Deputy Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena also highlighted the plight faced by the UNP. He said the UNP has become helpless as it has not been able to settle its internal crisis. Quoting a comment by the UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana, the Deputy Minister said the MP has said that they would welcome their new leader on April 12 by eating Kiribath.

The Deputy Minister told the House he does not know whether MP Pathirana has jumped into the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port as he was not able to elect a new UNP Leader. Deputy Minister Abeygunawardena also denied the claims made by UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera on Hambantota Port.

He said the UNP does not have even a topic to speak about due to the severe setback faced by them.

During the Local Government election campaign they highlighted the issue of prices of vegetables, coconuts and rice, requesting the people to send a warning to the Government. But the people have turned this red light on the UNP and they have also given a good answer to the JVP that they cannot cheat the people forever.

He requested the UNP to join hands with the Government at this juncture by extending their support to the programs of the Government.

The House drew its attention to the sudden disaster faced by Japan. External Affairs Minister Prof.G. L. Peiris in a special statement made in Parliament on behalf of the Government expressed its deepest sympathies to the Japanese Government.

The Minister informed the House that the Government stands ready to give further assistance to the Japanese people in order to assist them in overcoming the devastation. Prof. Peiris reiterated that the Government and the people of Sri Lanka stand by them in a spirit of friendship and solidarity at this time of difficulty.

Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who also made a special statement in Parliament expressed his deepest sympathies to the Japanese Government.

The Opposition Leader briefed the House how Japan has immensely helped Sri Lanka towards the implementation of several mega development projects. He also described Japan as the major country which has granted the highest amount of relief assistance and other aid to Sri Lanka during the past few years.

Senior Minister for International Monetary Co-operation Dr. Sarath Amunugama recalled that Japan was the first country which provided immediate relief assistance to Sri Lanka when the country faced the tsunami catastrophe in 2004. The Minister told the House Japan provided US$ 90 million to Sri Lanka for its rehabilitation efforts.

MP Jayasekera queried UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa how many ships have arrived at the Hambantota Port after it was opened. MP Rajapaksa replied that he has no time to count the number of ships arriving at the Hambantota Port.

However he made an open invitation to MP Jayasekera to join him one day to show the ships coming to the port. But MP Rajapaksa told him that if the UNP takes any action against him, he could do nothing about it.

 

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