The 20th Amendment to the Constitution has created an uproar in the Provincial Councils. The Bill primarily seeks to evolve a new electoral system based on a mix of the First Past the Post System and the Proportional Representation System. The Bill also seeks to provide for conducting polls to all the nine Provincial Councils on the same date. Until the new electoral system is evolved, the elections to the Provincial Councils whose terms expire in the interim period are proposed to be withheld. During the period, their administrations are also to be vested with Parliament. That is the crux of the Bill which is now before Parliament. Its constitutionality has also been challenged in the Supreme Court. Let alone, the Bill has been referred for the approval of the Provincial Councils which have so far a mixed reaction depending on their own way of interpretation of the Bill.
- NC, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa PCs end on October 1; may face procrastination
- JO agitate for early polls; believe ground situation favourable
- CM Chamara Sampath Dasanayake-headed Uva PC rejects Bill
- NPC: If Bill enacted, it would give extra period in office to CM
- WPC: CM gets nod despite disruptions by JO’s
- Arjuna accuses present SLC administration for SL’s poor show
- Successive Govts. neglected sports, including cricket - Champika
The terms of the North Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils will end on October 1. If the new Bill is passed to Act of Parliament, it will make for the postponement of elections to them this year.
The Joint Opposition members agitate for early elections as they believe the ground situation is favourable for them politically in the country at the moment. So, they are opposed to the Bill. When the North Central Provincial Council took up the Bill recently, the Joint Opposition members voted against it. However, the Bill had the passage through the Council because the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) section loyal to President Maithripala Sirisena voted in favour. It is an understandable situation.
In contrast, the Bill was rejected by the Uva Provincial Council later. In fact, it is headed by Chief Minister Chamara Sampath Dasanayake. He was appointed by President Sirisena. So, many people assumed that the Bill would be endorsed there without any hassle. However, what happened was the exact opposite.
Actually, the term of the Uva PC is slated to end in 2019. If the government works out the new electoral system soon and decides to conduct the polls to all the Councils on the same day as envisaged in the Bill, the election to the Uva PC will have to be advanced. It means of loss of time in office for CM Dasanayake and the ministers appointed after the change of government in 2015.
He did not want to sacrifice his time in office as the CM at any cost. Therefore, he, backed by the Joint Opposition members, did not endorse the Bill. Also, it is believed that though he is an appointee by the President, he is close to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who leads the Joint Opposition.
Recently, NPC Opposition Leader N. Thavarajah approached NP CM C.V. Wigneswaran and said there was no need to oppose the Bill. He believed that the Bill, if enacted, would give an extra period in office for CM Wigneswaran and other members of the council after expiration of its term next year.
However, CM Wigneswaran has reason to object to the Bill as it seeks to vest the power of provincial administration with Parliament after dissolution. It goes against the concept of power devolution. As a result, he had decided to express his reservations. The Bill will be taken up for consideration in his Council on September 4.
The Bill says, “In the event of dissolution of any Provincial Council by reason of the operation of the provisions of sub-paragraph of paragraph (8) of Article 154B or by any other reason specified in any law, the powers of such Provincial Council shall be exercised by Parliament until the specified date and the provisions of Articles 154L and 154M shall apply in relation to the exercise of powers of the Provincial Council.” The Bill was rejected by the Southern PC where the JO remains strong. In the Western PC, CM Isuru Devapriya, however, managed to get approval for the Bill despite disturbances created by the JO. All in all, the PCs appeared to have responded to the Bill from different standpoints.
Arjuna- Dayasiri clash at Cabinet
Sri Lanka Cricket has stooped down to its lowest ebb at the moment. As a cricketing nation, the local fans are no longer ready to see the dismal performance of their team. They began to vent their fury by invading the pitch in Dambulla and flinging water bottles into the ground in Pallekele, Kandy.
The crisis made its way into the Cabinet last Tuesday as former Sri Lanka’s world cup winning- skipper turned Minister Arjuna Ranatunga and Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara confronted each other over the plight of cricket. Minister Ranatunga threw accusations at the present cricket administration.
Meanwhile, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka found fault with the successive governments for not developing sports as a whole. He charged that Cricket was given the pride of place in the past under leaders such as Gamini Dissanayake. Likewise, he said Rugby enjoyed special patronage during the time of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He said athletics found some improvement only during the time of S. B. Dissanayake as the then Sports Minister.
After that, the Cabinet discussed measures to be taken in view of SAARC Games to be held in Sri Lanka in 2020.