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MPs want faster replies for questions raised in P’ment


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By Ashwin Hemmathagama

 – Our Lobby Correspondent

Both Opposition and Government lawmakers disapproved of the delay in replying to questions that seek oral answers and the delay in starting the Consultative Committees.

UNP MP S. M. Marikkar, who was unhappy that a question he had raised in Parliament went unanswered for over six months, said: “We are elected by the people and it is a serious matter if we are unable to respond to their issues. We are unable to go visit each Ministry in search of answers to public issues. When not getting the answers, it is a disrespect to the voters. I have only two national schools in my electorate. I asked this question over six months ago. All I wanted to know is about the plan to develop this school.”

Agreeing with MP Marikkar, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya promised action as per the new Standing Orders of Parliament approved recently. “I have noticed this issue several times. The recent revision of the Standing Orders was included due to the necessity of the Ministers being present to reply the questions raised. I will keep the President as well as the Prime Minister informed about this issue. Please accept my apology for delaying the replies. It is unfair to delay questions for months, sometimes it goes over six to seven months,” said the Speaker.

Defending the delays on the part of the Ministers, Minister of Ports and Shipping Mahinda Samarasinghe said: “When a question is asked we take time to find the information required to answer it. This is not a deliberate delay.”

However, opposition lawmaker JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa disagreed with the “lame excuse” given by Minister Samarasinghe. “Minister Samarasinghe’s opinion is unfair. I had raised a simple question seeking the details, including the name, the address, salary, and the allowances of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Chairman. Most of this information can be easily found on his salary slip and you don’t need additional time,” said Dr. Jayatissa.

Meanwhile, UPFA Joint Opposition Parliamentary group leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena was seen on his feet challenging the Speaker to reveal the exact date to commence the Consultative Committees now included in the new Standing Orders of Parliament.

“We have passed the new Standing Order, which also included the Consultative Committees for each Ministry. Do let us know when the Government is going to start these committees. ‘As soon as possible’ is not a responsible reply,” said MP Gunwardena.

Dr. Jayatissa then said: “The Consultative Committees were approved. With the space issues we experience in the Parliament complex, the Agriculture Ministry building was also obtained at a monthly cost of RS. 24 million. We also paid for this building which was closed for over 16 months.”

According to the Speaker, the Consultative Committees would start before 1 April, this year. 


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