Most of the expenditure heads of the Internal & Home Affairs and the Provincial Councils & Local Government ministries of Vajira Abeywardane were defeated in parliament today during the committee stage debate.
Champika Ranawaka’s Megapolis and Western Development Ministry’s expenditure heads were also defeated. When approval for the expenditure head 260 of the Internal and Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government was sought, UPFA MP Ranjith Soyza called for a division and a vote was taken thereafter.
Most of the government members were not present in the chamber when the vote was taken and the expenditure head was defeated by 18 votes. 38 members voted against it. Only 20 votes were received in favour, including two TNA MPs. Division was called for the expenditure heads from 261 to 289 of the Internal and Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry and all of them were defeated by 15 votes.
38 members voted against them and only 23 voted in favour. However, expenditure heads (155, 226, 227 and from 254 to 259) of that ministry was approved without a vote. Thereafter, the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development was taken up for approval and the opposition called for a division for that as well. Accordingly, expenditure heads 162 and 311 of the Megapolis and Western Province Development Ministry was defeated by 24 votes.38 MPs voted against them and 14, including two TNA MPs, voted in favour. JVP MPs were not present in the chamber at the time of voting.
During the adjournment debate which came after the vote, UPFA MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage claimed that they had defeated the heads of two main ministries and said this should be viewed as a warning to the government.
He said there was an internal objection from the backbenches to the ministry of Abeywardane and this defeat was a clear sign of it. UNP MP Wijeyapala Hettiarachchi, who joined the debate, said the defeat of two expenditure heads in this manner went against parliamentary tradition and said that they could have defeated the budget at the second reading if they are dared to do so. (Ajith Siriwardana and Yohan Perera)