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Sunday, 8 February 2015

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Commission to probe Rathupaswala shooting - PM

Government legislators who joined in the debate on the interim Budget presented under the Government's 100-day Program explained to the House as to how the Government could provide immediate relief to the people due to its candid efforts to check fraud, waste and corruption of the previous government.

Opposition members commended the Government's attempts to present the interim Budget and said it contained people friendly proposals.

Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva who opened the debate for the Opposition endorsed benefits given to the people in the interim budget. He told the House that the main Opposition UPFA will vote for the Budget. The Opposition Leader said according to the composition in Parliament, the Budget can only be passed with the support of the Opposition.

De Silva said that President Maithripala Sirisena expected the Opposition to point out mistakes and make constructive criticism of the Budget. He also hailed the budget proposals to curtail the provision made for the President. The interim budget cannot be described as a miracle, he said.

Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka's speech was clear proof of fraud, corruption and exploitation of public funds by the previous regime. He said this interim Budget was presented against racketeers who exploited public funds. Minister Ranawaka said that almost hundred percent of the country's tax revenue was controlled by the former President and his two brothers.

The biggest amount of public funds was looted during the Rajapaksa regime. The Rajapaksa regime's imposition of unbearable taxes on fuel and food commodities and siphoning off a huge amount of money for those who led super luxury lifestyles. Minister Ranawaka said this was a crime of the previous regime and the interim budget could check it and ensure social justice.

Another large scale fraud and waste during the previous regime was exposed on the floor of the House following a query raised by DNA parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake as a large number of vehicles of the Presidential Secretariat during the tenure of former President went missing. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told the House that the Government will have to seek the assistance of soothsayers to track down the missing vehicles. The Premier said that they may have to even seek the help of Sumanadasa, the official astrologer of the former President to trace these vehicles.

He said nobody knew how many vehicles were at the Presidential Secretariat as there was no official record of the vehicles purchased by the Presidential Secretariat. They could be Lamborghinis, Toyotas or even Nanos. The Premier said the Presidential Secretariat staff is attempting to trace details of the vehicles and they may need to consult vehicle importers to get details. He said Parliament would be kept informed when further details are collected. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the need to appoint a special Commission or Parliamentary Select Committee to probe the Rathupaswala incident where three civilians were killed and 15 others were injured during a public protest.

JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake who made a special statement on the previous day in Parliament said that the answers presented in Parliament on the shooting incident at Rathupaswela, Weliweriya in reply to a question by him were not true. The MP described it as an attack against hapless people. He asked him to disclose the name of the official who ordered to send the army to attack a peaceful protest.

The Premier said that Party Leaders should decide whether to appoint a special Commission or a Parliamentary Select Committee to report on the incident. He was not satisfied with the reports furnished by the Defence Ministry and Police Department on the incident.

Three Parliamentarians, UNP MPs Tissa Attanayake, and Palitha Thewarapperuma and UPFA MP Premalal Jayasekara who were in remand arrived in Parliament in the Black Maria on Thursday. When MP Attanayake entered the Chambers the Opposition MPs thumped their desks welcoming him. After MP Attanayake took his seat, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake who was on the floor said that MP Attanayake was able to walk into the Chamber as the new Government believed and launched good governance.

The Minister said that during the former regime, an MP who was remanded could never have set foot in the Chamber. However, Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the police had taken MP Attanayake into custody without informing the Speaker in advance. This led several Government legislators to respond to the Opposition Leader's remarks.

Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that he was arrested in 1994 without prior permission from the then Speaker. UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that he was also arrested in 1971 but police had obtained permission from the Speaker before doing so. Deputy Justice Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe called upon the Speaker to consider the importance of precedence in Parliament as that would be helpful to all MPs. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa told the House that he would give a ruling on the matter after studying rulings given by his predecessors.

The main Opposition UPFA on Monday moved an adjournment motion against the removal of Mohan Peiris as Chief Justice. Parliamentary sittings were also suspended for 10 minutes during the debate as the Opposition MPs staged a protest. An uproar broke out when Housing and Samurdhi Minister Sajith Premadasa told the House that those who branded Maithripala Sirisena as a Tiger were now seeking refuge with him.

Except the DNA and TNA members, all Opposition MPs were present at the sittings wearing black bands as a sign of protest against the removal of Mohan Peiris from the post of Chief Justice. Opposition members prevented Minister Premadasa from continuing saying that the majority of parliamentarians were in the Opposition. As the situation could not be brought under control, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody suspended sittings for ten minutes.

The Opposition Leader who moved the adjournment motion thanked the President for providing the opportunity to hold this debate. However, he said the Government has challenged the ruling given by the Speaker. The Opposition Leader also said they would bring in a No-confidence Motion against Public Order, Disaster Management and Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga as he had failed to maintain law and order in the country. He said Amaratunga's conduct in a recent incident at the Wattala Pradeshiya Sabha has proved that he had failed to carry out his duties properly.

The JVP on Friday accused the main Opposition UPFA of trying to silence them without allocating time for the debates in Parliament. JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake raising a Point of Order said that when the UPFA was in power, it attempted to prevent their voice being heard in Parliament. Now they are trying to do the same even as the Opposition.

Chief Opposition Whip W.D.J. Seneviratne responding to the MP said that there were 157 members in the Opposition and the Budget debate needed 300 minutes of which the Government and Opposition had been allocated 150 minutes each. He said 22 minutes had been allocated for the DNA (JVP) of which 12 were given on Thursday and the remaining 10 minutes were given yesterday. The MP queried from the Chief Opposition Whip as to how he decides on dates for them? Finally, the Prime Minister proposed to allocate one more hour for the debate and postpone Saturday's vote from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. so that more time could be given to the TNA and the DNA.

 

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