A tense situation arose in parliament today after the government proposed to postpone the vote on the regulations imposed under the Sri Lanka Export Development Act while the opposition called for a vote claiming that it was against Standing Orders to postpone it.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had to suspend the sessions after hell broke out.
The opposition throughout the day alleged that there were no ministers in the House to respond to their questions pertaining to the regulations imposed under the Act was taken for debate. They argued that there was no quorum in the House on several occasions.
Opposition MP Sriyani Wijewickrame who was at the chair called out the names of the MPs who were listed to speak, but none of them was present - including MPs from both sides. The opposition argued that the vote need to be taken up since the MPs who were listed to speak were absent. JO MPs Shehan Semasinghe and Bandula Gunawardene called for a vote. This was followed by the JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake who quoted the standing orders.
Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella who responded saying it was up to the government to decide whether to take up the vote or postpone and said the vote would be taken on another date.
However, the opposition MPs pointed out that it was against the Standing Orders and urged the government to either withdraw the resolution or go for voting. This argument was raised by JO MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage.
The presiding member then announced that Parliament would be adjourned till today, but quoting the standing orders asked the government and the opposition to explain their points as arguments were heating up. A while later she said she was compelled to go for a vote.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was on his feet at this point, said subject minister Malik Samarawickrame was not present to respond to the questions raised by the MPs and that the minister was willing to give a detailed response to their questions and requested that the vote should be taken on another date.
As the situation had reached beyond containable proportions, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended the sittings and called for a party leaders meeting.
Following the meeting, the Speaker announced that it was up to the leader of the House to decide on the government's business and asked to move the resolution to another date as agreed at the party leaders' meeting. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)