Speaker won’t summon Finance Secy; govt. MPs say time not right for polls

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena meeting Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and other government MPs. (pic courtesy Chief Government Whip Office)

Wimal: Rs 1.1 bn sufficient

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has declared that he didn’t have the authority to summon Treasury Secretary Mahinda Siriwardana over accusation that the official denied funds required by the Election Commission (EC) to conduct the Local Government polls.

Speaker Abeywardena has said that he cannot summon Parliament over the issue. Political sources said that Speaker Abeywardena had indicated he had no intention of taking up the issue at hand when a group of government ministers and MPs met him at the Parliament yesterday (01).

Among those present at the government party leaders’ meet were Premier Dinesh Gunawardena and Namal Rajapaksa. The UNP was represented by Wajira Abeywardena.

Office of the Chief Government Whip of Parliament Prasanna Ranatunga, in a statement issued yesterday afternoon, quoted government members as having said that they expected Speaker Abeywardena to follow the Constitution and Standing Orders of the Parliament in this regard.

Prime Minister Gunawardena emphasised the responsibility on their part to address this issue in line with the Constitution and Standing Orders of the Parliament.

Top Opposition spokesman and former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said that if the government followed the Constitution and Standing Orders the delayed Local Government polls could have been conducted on March 09, as originally announced by the EC. Prof. Peiris said that the government group was making a desperate bid to deceive the public, in the wake of growing protests over the disruption of scheduled polls.

Prof. Peiris pointed out that the US has urged the government to conduct Local Government polls.

Meanwhile, National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa yesterday said that the Opposition received an assurance from the EC that the election could be conducted, at a much lower cost. Referring to a meeting a delegation from the Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, led by Thilanga Sumathipala, had with the EC, on Tuesday (Feb. 28), MP Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya, urged the government to release funds, required by the EC, without further delay.

Addressing the media, at their Darley Road office, lawmaker Weerawansa said that the EC assured that they could manage with Rs 1.1 bn.

MP Weerawansa urged the government to facilitate an early peaceful settlement of this issue. The former JVPer flayed President Ranil Wickremesinghe for trying to justify the postponement of Local Government polls, based on false claims.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told The Island that the government couldn’t indefinitely postpone elections. The Colombo District MP said that the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government was in a bind. The leadership realized that the crisis the government was in and further rapid erosion of public support, as indicated by growing protests.

MP Dissanayake said that he was quite surprised, and disappointed, by some sections of the civil society, at a time the government was all out to suppress democratic freedoms. Lawmaker Dissanayake said that the public would like to know the reaction of former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who recently received State honours, to the current situation

courtesy The Island

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Disclaimer: Speaker won’t summon Finance Secy; govt. MPs say time not right for polls - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view

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