Rs 100 M for sound, electronic voting in Parliament:
Ailing sound system waiting to be replaced
Parliament's amplified sound system is 15 years old, and the
electronic voting system 18 years old, and neither system is fully
functional today. The sound system is now outdated whereas, the
electronic voting system has never been used properly, the Sunday
Pic: ANCL Media Library
The Treasury has allocated Rs. 100 million to instal a brand new
microphone system in Parliament in place of the existing system.
Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake told the Sunday
Observer that tenders were called for a new microphone system even
before the recent technical glitch experienced on June 8.
He said, the tenders are scheduled to be evaluated this week. The
budgetary allocation was requested during the months of June or July
last year to replace the system and it had been included in the
budgetary estimates of Parliament, when the budget was passed last
Parliament authorities are looking at the technical aspects of the
new microphone system and it will be installed before the end of the
year, the Secretary General (SG) added.
"The entire system is likely to be replaced with a brand new congress
system, with voting facilities.
Repairs have already been made to the existing microphone system and
it is functioning now, but the reliability of the system is not at the
highest level. It is a digital system relying on hardware as well as
It is 15 years old and the relevant company does not have the
hardware nor the software to undertake comprehensive repairs," the SG
said. "So, it is time we go for a new system. We don't know the exact
cost and called for tenders from representatives of companies, to
forward their proposals.
The Government has allocated Rs.100 million to replace the system,"
The microphone system has malfunctioned at various times. "Unlike the
incident on June 8, we could usually fix a technical error within five
to ten minutes, previously. But this time, it took more time and was
finally repaired at 4.30 pm the same day," he added.
"The system has been fully repaired now. The only problem is, we have
to make maximum use of it. Just because of a small technical error, it
cannot be removed. Financial allocations were asked last year because it
was clear that the system cannot go on, which was the feedback we got
from the technical experts as well.
Now, Rs.100 million has been allocated to replace the system," the SG
Meanwhile, the reintroduction of the electronic voting system will
also be done, he said. In the draft to amend the Standing Orders of
Parliament, amendments have been proposed to decide on electronic
The recent voting fiasco would not have occurred if the electronic
voting system was in place, he opined.
The congress system had been installed 18 years ago. But it was not
used due to various reasons, such as doubt that there could be computer
jugglery and lack of proper Standing Orders to implement it.
It was tried several times, but the members were not happy with the
system, and whatever the reasons, the concurrence of the members
couldn't be obtained, the SG said. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya told the
Sunday Observer, a decision has already been taken to replace the
microphone system of Parliament, and added that they have already called
for tenders. Tenders will be closed on June 21, after which there will
be a completely new set up installed, he said.
Speaker Jayasuriya had to adjourn the sittings abruptly and postpone
the debate on the no-confidence motion against Finance Minister Ravi
Karunanayake on June 8, following a technical glitch in the microphone
system of Parliament.
The following day, the Speaker told Parliament that the sound system
inside the Chamber broke down due to a technical problem, and was not an
act of sabotage, as alleged by the Joint Opposition members.
He said, a comprehensive investigation was conducted and found that
the microphone system stopped functioning as it was too old, and added
that microphones in the Chamber had stopped functioning on several
The system has to be replaced and would be done on a priority basis,
the Speaker said.