Claiming that the President cannot spend from the consolidated funds from tomorrow as per the constitution, former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera in a letter addressed to President Gotabaya Rajapakse informed him that anyone who was held guilty of violating the law could be subjected to civic disability for seven years while his movable and immovable could be forfeited.
'Prime Minister, Cabinet of Ministers and the Members of Parliament, as well as all public officials, including the Secretary to the Treasury, have pledged to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Republic. Any person who acts in contravention of the provisions on conviction by the Court of Appeal shall be subject to Civic disability for such period not exceeding seven years and forfeit his movable and immovable property other than such property as is determined as being necessary for the sustenance of such person and his family. Therefore I kindly request you to exercise your powers as the Head of State at this critical time to summon the Parliament as soon as possible with the support of all parties represented in Parliament and to have the essential expenditure, including the payment of salaries to the public service after 30th April 2020 approved legally and constitutionally so that Sri Lanka acts responsibly, respecting the Constitution in relation to public finances. Failure to do so, especially at a time of a pandemic is bound to have serious repercussions for the short and long-term economic well-being of our people especially in light of international obligations and the nature of the interconnected global financial and economic system." Mr. Samraweera said in his letter.
"In the years when a presidential election is forthcoming, successive governments have refrained from passing a budget leaving an opportunity for the winning President to submit his own Budget. As the Presidential election was scheduled to be held on 16th November 2017, the then government was of the view that presenting an Appropriation Bill would not be appropriate. Accordingly, the then Government presented a Vote on Account to Parliament for a period of four months from 1st January 2020 to 30th April 2020 and adopted it on 23rd October 2019 leaving an opportunity for the would be elected President to present his own Budget.
However, on the contrary, the finance minister appointed by you did not present a budget for 2020 until you issued a Gazette dissolving Parliament on 2nd March in spite of the fact that you assumed office in November 2019, over three months prior to the dissolution of Parliament. As you would recall, the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa who also held the portfolio of Finance did not present the Budget for 2015 since the Presidential Election was scheduled in November 2014 for 8th January 2015. Therefore, I would like to remind you that the good governance government that won the Presidential election on 08th January 2015 presented a budget for the financial year 2015 within 21 days of its election" he added.
'Instead of presenting an Appropriation Bill for the year 2020, prior to dissolution of the Parliament on 2nd March 2020, a proposal was brought by your government to amend the Vote on Account which had already been passed by the yahapalana government. Thereafter your government withdrew it after the opposition in Parliament pointed out that there was no provision in the Standing Orders for such an amendment. Now, as a result of the failure to present the budget due to reasons known only to your government, and the sudden emergence of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the country is afflicted with a pandemic in addition to legislative and economic crises" he also said. (Yohan Perera)