Daily Mirror - Print Edition

Absence of MPs cause drama in Parliament

03 Apr 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana   
Absence of MPs yesterday created a drama in Parliament leading to the suspension of sittings for more than two hours while the voting on the order under Value Added Tax (VAT) ACT was low.   
Sessions were suspended around 1 pm last afternoon until 4 pm as more than 30 MPs who were to speak during the debate were absent. Some 21 members of the Opposition and 11 from the ruling party who were to speak during yesterday’s debate were absent.   
Later the order under the Value Added Tax (VAT) Amendment Act was approved with 55 members voting in favour and 19 against. 

A blame game was witnessed earlier during the day when the ruling party and the opposition members blamed each other for the absence. SLPP MP Kokila Gunawardene blamed the Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella while the latter blamed the government. “You could not get any minister to be present during the afternoon. Voting should have been conducted if a minister was present,” he said.   
“It was the Chief Opposition Whip who failed to get MPs who were to speak from the opposition to be present,” MP Gunawardene 
shot back.   
There were difference of opinion among the members of opposition as well with regard to the matter. Accordingly NPP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake argued that it is not possible to suspend the sessions and resume if there are no MPs to speak during the debate. “Deputy Speaker should have adjourned the sessions today and allow the debate to take place on another day,” he said.   
However Mr. Kiriella wanted an hour for the debate and the government agreed to that proposal at the end.