Much ado about Resolution
of a resolution moved by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake under the
Local Treasury Bills Ordinance seeking approval of the House to borrow a
sum of Rs. 400 billion to issue Treasury Bills has created a platform
for a section of UPFA Parliamentarians to find fault with the Government
and exert pressure on it to resign. The resolution received only 31
votes in favour while 52 were against it. All parties in the Opposition
except the TNA voted against it. However, Minister Karunanayake
reiterated that the unparliamentary tradition of defeating the
resolution by a group of UPFA MPs has no adverse impact on the
Government and assured to continue with granting relief and concessions
to the people as pledged under the Government's Interim Budget.
The JVP which
holds a diametrically opposed view on the subject said that the defeat
of a resolution in Parliament is not a valid reason for the Government
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake:
This is a sinister move by Wimal Weerawansa, Dinesh Gunawardena and
Vasudeva Nanayakkara against the Opposition Leader.
The Opposition Leader clearly told Parliament that they would support
the resolution. We were discussing the Samurdhi program, Sri Lankan
Airlines and how to purchase more paddy. When there was no vote, we went
about our business. When the vote was taken, Opposition Leader was not
in the Chamber. We could clearly see that they didn't want us granting
benefits to people. Even if we want to purchase more paddy, we cannot do
The Samurdhi beneficiaries too are badly affected. So what we want to
say is that people are being duped by their own representatives.
Actually this is a battle between factions on the Opposition Leader's
issue. So long as we have funds to pay salaries and advances, there is
hardly an impact on us due to this move.
We only wanted to reduce the interest cost of the loans and to have
cheaper rates which is what they have defeated. Treasury Bills which
remained at Rs.250 billion up to December 31, 2004 was increased to Rs.
850 billion by the Rajapaksa regime. We have been forced to pay over
Rs.600 billion because of the Rajapaksa regime's unproductive projects.
We wanted to secure Rs.400 billion to pay for this and not to print
money. We are financially strong. Morality is not the question. They
don't really want the people to enjoy benefits. This is not something
like Rajapaksas putting money into their pockets.
We want money to go into people's pockets but they want to stop it.
This is the same coterie of people against whom bribery and corruption
charges have been made and as such unable to face an election.
They are the people who are pushing for this- not the SLFPers led by
President Maithripala Sirisena.
No reason for Govt to step down
JVP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath:
A crisis has already been created in the Central Bank regarding the
Treasury bond issue. An allegation has been leveled against Central Bank
Governor Arjuna Mahendran over a controversial bond deal in which his
son-in-law’s firm allegedly had access to inside information due to
favouritism. We also directly level this allegation against him. Under
increasing the credit limit with borrowing of another Rs.400 billion
is a burden to the economy. It would further aggravate the debt crisis.
That is why as a party, we voted against that resolution. But we
categorically state that there is no connection whatsoever on the
bond issue and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. These are two
completely different issues.
We don't see this issue would make any impact on the 19th amendment.
Merely because a resolution moved by the Government was defeated, it
should not be a valid reason for that Government to resign.
It has not happened in the history as well. JVP voted against this
resolution does not mean it is opposed to the entire programs launched
by the Government. We would extend our fullest support to the 19th
Amendment, Right to Information Act and all other people's friendly
initiatives of the Government.
Our policy is to support what is right and oppose what is wrong. But
we don't see this particular Treasury Bill issue as a reason to topple
or dissolve the Government. We see this as a good feature of democracy.
But the Government would have made more intervention on this issue. They
didn't fulfill that and even the Finance Minister was not in the Chamber
when the vote was taken. This shows the weakness on the part of the
Govt has no right to continue
UPFA Parliamentarian T.B. Ekanayake:
When a financial Bill moved by the Government is defeated in
Parliament, it has no moral right to continue in office. The absence of
Prime Minister, Finance Minister and other key Ministers at the time of
voting was a clear testimony of the lack of focus by the Government on
The present Government has no proper understanding of the
Most of the time, Government Ministers are not in the House to
respond to questions raised by the Opposition MPs. Over 80 days have
pased in the 100 day program but nothing substantial has been done.
Following the request made by President Maithripala Sirisena, all UPFA
MPs voted for the Government's Hundred Day Program and Interim Budget.
However instead of
slinging mud at former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and some UPFA MPs,
the Government should come up with a proper program for the country.
The Government does not have a program to seek the support of the
If the UNP has a moral right, they should immediately resign and go
before the people.
Development has to go on
Leader of the House and Plantation Industries
Minister Lakshman Kiriella :
Commencing the debate on behalf of the Opposition, Opposition Leader
Nimal Siripala de Silva assured that they would support this resolution.
Contractors have to be paid and other development work must go on. What
happened was believing that, we took it easy and we thought that there
will not be a vote. But at the end of the debate, the Front Line
Socialist Party MP Ajith Kumara asked for a division. We were surprised
to see 52 MPs who are under the whip of Opposition Leader defied it and
voted with the Front Line Socialist Party resolution. The parliamentary
practice is once the Opposition Leader gives an assurance that they
would support, we didn't expect 52 MPs to go against him.
If a certain section of the Opposition MPs say that the Government
has no moral right to continue in office after a defeat of a resolution,
the best solution is to go for an election. If the Opposition's support
is definitely there, we don't mind to continue for a few months. But if
the Opposition's support is not there, it is meaningless.
Govt should be dissolved
MEP Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena:
According to Parliamentary traditions, when a financial Bill is
defeated in the House, the Government should be dissolved. A resolution
brought under the Local Treasury Bills Ordinance has been defeated.So we
call upon the Government to follow the tradition. The Finance Minister
was not present in the House when the vote was taken. His absence was a
clear indication that the Government was not serious to get this
resolution passed. It shows the plight of the incumbent Government. When
a financial regulation is defeated in Parliament, the Government should
either resign or present it again and win it to stay in power. The UPFA
Parliamentarians who represent the genuine Opposition rallied round and
defeated this motion. As a result, the aspirations of the UPFA MPs who
joined the Government and obtained portfolios were also shattered.
Whatever comments uttered by the incumbent Opposition Leader, our
strategy has been successful. In a way the defeat could be attributed to
baseless talk on the part of many Government politicians.