Public Enterprise and Kandyan Heritage and Development Minister and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament, yesterday, that both main parties had agreed to hold the elections under the proportional representation (PR) system.
In answer to a question raised by UPFA MP Dinesh Gunawardena, the Minister said that both parties had reached agreement at the party leaders’ meeting.
MP Gunawardena raised a question regarding the failure on the part of the Delimitation Review Committee, headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to present its report to parliament.
During the debate on the delimitation report and the review committee’s delay in presenting its report to the President, several MPs expressed their views. The delimitation report was presented to Parliament, but was defeated in the House. Thereafter, the Speaker appointed a five-member committee, headed by the Prime Minister, to look into the shortcomings in the report, in August 2018.
“Only two months could be given to such a committee. But the two month time period has elapsed and the Prime Minister has failed to present the report to Parliament or to the President. According to the law, once the two-month period has lapsed, the Speaker or Prime Minister should send the report to the President for the Provincial Council elections to be held,” said Gunawardena, demanding to know from the government whether it could tell the House why there had been a delay in handing the report to the President.
Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said that the matter had been discussed at the party leaders’ meeting and according to his knowledge the report should be handed over to the President by the chairman of the review committee. He asked the Leader of the house if he had anything to say on the matter.
Leader of the House Minister Kiriella said the matter should be left to the Speaker and he should send the report to the President.
Both Kiriella and Gunawardena told the Deputy Speaker that both parties were agreeable and that the Speaker should send the report to the President.
The Deputy Speaker said that he would discuss the matter with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya upon his return.
The Deputy Speaker said that he had been informed that the report should be sent to the President by the head of the committee, who is the Prime Minister.
Minister Kiriella said that they were not afraid of holding elections and that they, too, wanted an electoral contest.
The Deputy Speaker assured that he would bring the matter to the attention of the Speaker, who would have the report sent to the President.
UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that the report of the committee should have been sent to the President within two months. He said that if that provision had been violated and they had taken longer, then the Prime Minister, as the Chairman of the review committee should provide an explanation to Parliament.
The Deputy Speaker said that he would discuss the matter with the Speaker. “Generally, the report should be sent to the President by the Chairman of the committee. But, this matter was discussed previously at the party leaders’ meeting and, therefore, we will take further action accordingly,” he said.
JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that when delimitation bill was not passed in Parliament by a two-thirds majority, a review committee headed by the Prime Minister was appointed by the Speaker. “This committee should send their review report within two months to the President for him to gazette it. Then the delimitation obstacles to the holding of elections would be resolved. But the review committee headed by the Prime Minister has failed to send the report to the President within the stipulated two-month period. They have also failed to find what happens if the two-month period lapses. Further, the Chairman of the Review Committee sent a letter to the Speaker asking for a one-month extension, but the Speaker cannot give his approval through a letter either as the Bill clearly states that the review committee report should be sent to the President within two months. But now since the stipulated period has lapsed, either this bill should be amended and such provision to extend should be incorporated and the review committee is responsible to parliament to explain why the report was not submitted within two months. Now, a situation has arisen where it is not possible to hold the Provincial Council election.”
Dissanayake said that had the parliament passed the delimitation report at the time, the elections would have been held by now. “But both main parties opposed the delimitation report. Even the minister in charge who presented the delimitation report to Parliament voted against it. Hence, it is clear that both parties together deliberately objected and is responsible for delaying the provincial council elections.”