No-Confidence Motion against former Finance Minister no longer has any effect: Speaker
The No-Confidence Motion against former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake submitted by the Joint Opposition will no longer has any effect, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced in Parliament yesterday.
Speaker Jayasuriya told the House that there is no reason for him to go ahead with the NCM as the minister concerned has tendered resignation. The Speaker made this observation after Karunanayake’s special statement in Parliament. The JO handed over the NCM against Karunanayake signed by 33 MPs on August 2. The Speaker had previously stated that he would consult the Attorney General and give a ruling by yesterday.
Watchful of punishment former CB Governor will undergo: Amaraweera
UPFA General Secretary and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said in Parliament yesterday he was watchful of the fate of former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.
“We are watchful of the punishments former CB Governor Manhendran has to undergo.
Removing him from the office of CB Governor is not enough. Corrective measures should be taken with regard to the financial loss the State incurred,” the minister said speaking at the adjournment debate.
The minister commended Minister Karunanayake’s move to resign from his portfolio and said the courts in the time to come would decide whether Karunanayake was guilty over the allegations.
“Nobody can get away after cheating public money is the message his resignation gives out,” Amaraweera said.
“When we first came up with the proposal to set up the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, some frowned at us saying it was a move to cover up the incident. Today, it has been more effective than filing a court case,” he said.
“I must remind you that this is not the first financial fraud revealed by the COPE. When Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was chairing it, the Committee found financial irregularities running to approximately Rs. 30,000 million. We are yet to find what happened to those COPE reports. The COPE members could be happy today. This is actually a people’s achievement,” he said.
Hambantota Port Concessionary Agreement presented in Parliament
The Government yesterday in Parliament presented the Hambantota Port Concessionary Agreement signed between the China Merchant Port Holdings (Pvt.) Limited and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
Chief Government Whip and Minister Gayantha Karunathilake presented the agreement at the commencement of sittings.
The agreement was inked on July 29.
Ravi’s resignation no victory for Government or Opposition: Handunetti
The resignation of former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake is not a victory for the Government or the Opposition, JVP MP Sunil Handunetti said.
Joining in the Adjournment debate in Parliament yesterday, COPE Chairman Handunnetti, said the minister’s resignation was no cause for the Government and the JO to revel in pleasure.
“Those in the Government must understand that they still have a long way to go to restore the broken public confidence in them and their good governance concept. Resigning after frauds were revealed does not reflect any ‘Yahapalanaya’. The Finance Minister having to resign within two years is not in any way an achievement for the Government. It could have been better if Minister Karunanayake had tendered his resignation much earlier. He resigned knowing that he could not defeat the No-Confidence Motion,” he said. “On the other hand, the Joint Opposition should not think that all their previous frauds and corruption charges could be covered up from this incident. People gave mandate to the Government to reveal financial misappropriations of those who previously ruled. The Government has failed in this commitment. The JO could be contended today only if there are no thieves in their group,” he said. MP Handunetti said that if follow up actions were taken on the revelations made in the four latest COPE reports, some of the Opposition MPs would even be compelled to resign from their Parliamentary seats.
“The challenge before the Government is to reveal that history and dispel the public opinion that the Government protects the corrupt lot. At the same time the Government must rule the country efficiently,” he said. The COPE Chairman, expressing his contentment over the progress made on bond scam investigations following the special COPE report, thanked the tireless contribution of all COPE members including the Auditor General in the investigations.
The MP said the investigations should continue to find out what happened to the cheated money. He said measures must be taken to recover the economic loss to the country from the bond scam.
JO’s claim ‘public finance precariously placed’, unfounded: Media Minister
The Joint Opposition’s (JO) claim that the public finance is precariously placed is unfounded, Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
Joining the Adjournment debate on Central Bank annual report for the year 2016 in Parliament yesterday, the minister told even though some were trying to project that the country’s public finance is in deep crisis that was an unfounded allegation as per the macro-economic situation of the country.
“The contents in any Central Bank or Finance Ministry annual report do not support that allegation. The recent report and statements of the international finance agencies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund also negate such allegations. Instead they have commended the Government’s efforts to rebuild the economy,” the minister said. The minister said the country’s economy was in abysmal condition when the Government took office in early 2015, but it could be saved by following farsighted economic policies.
Minister Samaraweera hailed the contribution of former Finance Minister Karunanayake to create a stable economy and commended his decision to tender his resignation “over allegations yet to be proved”.
Tense situation in Parliament
A tense situation arose in Parliament yesterday when the Joint Opposition leader Dinesh Gunawardena remarked over Opposition Leader’s statement after Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s statement of resignation.
Members of the government and the opposition sides exchanged words when MP Dinseh Gunawardena was heard saying ‘shame on you’.
Senior members of the government side were seen bringing the situation back to normal.
MP Wijesiri to hand over No-Confidence Motion against Minister Musthapha
UNP MP Chaminda Wijesiri yesterday told Parliament that he intends to hand over a No-Confidence Motion against Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Faiszer Musthapha.
The MP, observing that Minister Musthapha was repetitively absent in the House to reply to the questions pertaining to Uva Provincial Council Chief Minister Chamara Dasanayake, alleged that Musthapha has failed in his duties as the subject minister. “As an MP in the Yahapalana Government, I am ready to present a No-confidence motion against the minister and I request the support of backbenchers for it. The Yahapalana Government has room for such actions against the ministers,” he said.
The MP said he filed complaint at the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption as the charges he made against the Chief Minister had been proven with the audit inquiries. “The Speaker at many a times before told the MPs to pay attention to the allegations, but in vain. For some time now, the minister does not turn up in Parliament to answer to my questions,” he said.
MP Wijesiri had been raising question after question in Parliament for the last two years on allegations against the Uva Chief Minister over financial misappropriations and irregularities.
The minister constantly maintained the position that he could not interfere into provincial issues coming under devolved subjects.
No Faith Motion against me not technical: Ravi
Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake said that he resigned from his ministerial portfolio despite the legal advises that technically there was no No Faith Motion handed over to the Speaker against him.
He said since it was moral to resign from the position respecting the good governance that he reached this decision.
“My legal advisors advised me that there was no ‘No Confidence Motion’ against me since two confidence motions could not be moved against a same member during one session of Parliament,” Ravi Karunanayake said. “So a No Confidence Motion is not there before the Chair.”
He made this observation in Parliament yesterday after Opposition leader R. Sampanthan made his views on the Ravi Karunanayake's statement on the resignation.
JO members agitate in Parliament over Samurdhi slash
The Joint Opposition (JO) members agitated in Parliament yesterday charging that the Government was slashing the Samurdhi benefits of low income families.
The JO members, who were wearing black arm bands or neck scarves as a token of protest, held up posters and shouted slogans against the Government.
As Parliament heated up, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya was forced to suspend the sittings and call for a party leaders’ meeting.
JO Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena raising a question under the Standing Order 23 (2) alleged that the Government was revising the list of Samurdhi beneficiaries and as a result a large number of low income families have been deprived of Samurdhi benefit.
“I demand to know under what basis the Government is revising the list and how many beneficiaries will be deprived of Samurdhi. Do you admit that political allegiances are the basis for the revisions being made?” Gunawardena asked.
As MP Gunawardena was making the speech, the JO members were circulating black bands and placards among their group members. The posters carried the slogans, “Immediately stop Samurdhi curtailment”, “Do not touch the Social Security Fund” and “Ministers, aren’t you ashamed to slash Samurdhi benefit while importing vehicles”. MP Chamal Rajapaksa was neither wearing a black band nor supporting the demonstration.
Chief Government Whip and Minister Gayantha Karunathilake, while stating that Social Welfare and Empowerment Minister S B Dissanayake would reply to the question raised, assured that the revision of list is being done in an impartial manner and that nobody would face any injustice. The minister reminded the House that the low income families supporting the UNP were deprived of Samurdhi benefit for 20 long years.
Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Leader Anura Dissanayake requested the Government to halt the curtailment of Samurdhi till the subject minister make a clarification to the House.
Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera said he is of the opinion that Samurdhi benefit must be facilitated to all low income families irrespective of their political allegiances.
Amidst the tense situation, the Speaker was forced to suspend the sittings around 11.30am as his repeated requests for the JO MPs not to disrupt the proceedings were unheeded.
As the sittings resumed at 11.55am following a Party Leaders’ Meeting, Minister Karunathilake told the House that Minister S. B. Dissanayake would reply to the question today.