'New Constitution not a priority'
By Sandun A. Jayasekera
Mar 29, 2010
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka addressing the media at the Mahaweli Centre said:
“A new Constitution is not in the list of priorities of the government as we can address existing Constitutional and legal issues within the provisions of the Constitution itself, some of them with a 2/3 majority and some with a simple majority. What is most important is a consensus among all parties represented in Parliament.”
“All accept that streamlining of the 17th Amendment is sine qua non as there are many weaknesses in this piece of legislation.
“For instance, the appointment of members to the Constitutional Council on ethnic lines does not serve any purpose for good governance. Another area of concern is the Bribery Commission. Right now there are no provisions under the ‘Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption Act’ to take legal actions against those who offer bribes,” Mr. Ranawaka said.
“The government is determined to give added powers to Parliament on financial administration especially to make all public institutions and public enterprises strictly and directly accountable to Parliament. The COPE will be given more legal teeth,” he added.
“There will be total transparency on state financial handlings and strengthening of representative democracy through Executive Committee system, another novel feature in the expected Constitutional amendments,” Minister Ranawaka said.
“The President will be made accountable to Parliament. There will be an overhaul of standing orders to make it compulsory to give direct replies by ministers to oral questions from Members of Parliament.
“In addition to the re-introduction of the First Past the Post system to replace much criticized PR system under electoral reforms, more powers will be vested with Pradeshiya Sabas and each Pradeshiya Saba there will be a ‘Jana Saba’ for revitalized Gama-Neguma and ‘Pura Neguma’ programmes after re-demarcation of Pradeshiya Sabas, Minister Ranawaka said.
“The objective is to kick start the accelerated development programme that will ensure an economic, industrial trade cultural and even a spiritual progress in the next six years that will make Sri Lanka the economic power house in South Asia.
“The introduction of a fully fledged new Constitution is a long process that must go through a number of Constitutional and Legislative hurdles.
“Our purpose will be served without much trouble if we can do the job through Constitutional amendments in a targeted period of time without resorting in to the long process of introducing a new Constitution,” Minister Ranawaka emphasized.
DM Quote: A new Constitution is not in the list of priorities of the government as we can address existing Constitutional and legal issues within the provisions of the Constitution itself, some of them with a 2/3 majority and some with a simple majority. What is most important is a consensus among all parties represented in Parliament.- Champika Ranawaka
Courtesy: Daily Mirror