- 20A seeks to roll back 19A
- SJB MPs display placards against 20A
By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
The government yesterday presented the bill titled ‘20th Amendment to the Constitution’ to the House yesterday amid protests by the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya with its MPs desplaying placards and wearing black arm bands.
Among the many amendments proposed in the 20A is one that allows a government in office to present another budget if the earlier budget is defeated in Parliament.
“Where the President has not dissolved Parliament upon the House rejecting the Appropriation Bill, the President shall dissolve it if the next Appropriation Bill is rejected,” the 20A says.
Among the other amendments are the reintroduction of presidential immunity, appointment of a parliamentary council comprising Prime Minister, Speaker, Leader of Opposition, a nominee each of the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. This council will be vested with the power to making observations on the appointments made by the President while the latter is given the power to go ahead with the appointments if the council fails to submit it’s observations.
The President is also vested with the power to appoint the Chief justice, President of Appeal Court, Supreme Court Judges and the Secretary General of Parliament. He will also have power to appoint acting persons to these posts if those holding them are unable to discharge their duties, to appoint the Cabinet, to decide on the composition of the cabinet while he could also hold any ministerial portfolio.
The new legislation also provides provisions to reintroduce urgent bills.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa stood up to raise a point of order when the legislation was presented in the House. However, a commotion began when SJB MPs began shouting slogans.
“Wissa epa” (We don’t want 20th Amendment) the SJB MPs shouted.
The ruling party members also began shouting “Wissa one” (We want 20th Amendment).
MPs from both sides then stormed into the Well of the House. However, the government proceeded with the presentation of the bill for the First Reading. Afterwards, the government continued with the regular business of the House scheduled for the day.
Minister Bandula Gunawardena opened the debate on the new regulations imposed under the financial Bill at that time despite the commotion. The protests became more intense later as SJB MPs shouted saying the cameras inside the chambers were turned off. MP Kabir Hashim said it was unfair on the part of the staff to switch off the cameras. The SJB MPs stormed into the Speaker’s chair at that time in protest “Switching the cameras off is unfair “ MP Harsha de Silva was heard shouting.
Minister Wimal Weerawansa who raised an objection later said a precedent was created by former Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara to direct the cameras towards the Speaker and the Chair.
- Allows a government in office to present another budget if the earlier budget is defeated in Parliament
- The new legislation also provides provisions to reintroduce urgent bills