The committee which was appointed to study the 19th Amendment and make recommendations for changes to it will submit its report to the Cabinet in two weeks, a source said.
The government appointed a committee at its first Cabinet meeting to look into the 19th Amendment and identify areas to be changed. It consists of Justice Minister Ali Sabry, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Labour Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva.
A source close to the committee said, the draft proposals would be referred to the committee in two weeks.
Afterwards, the Cabinet will have a thorough look at them and proceed with drafting them into a bill to be incorporated into the Constitution in the form of the 20th Amendment. Daily Mirror learns that the government will try to rectify the ambiguity in the 19th Amendment regarding the power of the President to hold ministerial portfolios such as the defence, in this exercise.
Besides, the organisations which backed the government at the elections have started a series of seminars on the need to bring about changes to the 19th Amendment and to work out a completely new Constitution later.
The 19th Amendment was enacted in 2015 during the 100 day period of the Yahapalana government. It took away the President’s power to dissolve Parliament after one year. It also scrapped the President’s authority for the direct appointment of members to the independent commissions. Now, the President has to appoint Cabinet Ministers only in consultation with the Prime Minister. However, the assignment of subjects to the ministers is at the sole discretion of the President. The present rule says that governance is hamstrung due to the 19th Amendment. By Kelum Bandara