- Speaker says postponing of vote has not set bad precedent
- Govt. says Minister was not available due to investor meeting at BOI
- Opposition raises questions over absence of Finance Minister
The Government refusing to move three motions listed on the Order Paper on Thursday and rejecting a vote requested by the Opposition citing the necessity of the Minister responsible to make some clarifications did not violate the Standing Orders or the traditions of Parliament, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya confirmed to the House yesterday. The Speaker in response to United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Bandula Gunawardane who was seeking a ruling over the Government’s questionable decision making in Parliament said: “The Leader of the House removed the motions received from the Ministry of Finance in the absence of the Minister. Then I received a telephone call from the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama explaining his unavailability due to an urgent meeting with a team of investors that had arrived at the Board of Investment,” he said.
“So, the Leader of the House postponed the vote. This will not set a bad precedent for the future and it did not violate any Standing Orders,” added the Speaker.
According to MP Gunawardane, the Speaker’s decision would have a binding effect on future Parliaments. “At the Party Leaders’ meeting it was agreed to take up four items for debate in Parliament on Thursday. But the Leader of the House moved one item and continued with the debate. The Minister of Finance was not seen at the Kurunegala political rally nor was he present in Parliament,” said MP Gunawardane.
“I was unable to move the section on the tax for debate. The Government knew in advance if the part on finance gets defeated in Parliament it would lead the Minster to tender his resignation. The vote could have been taken at 5:30 p.m. but the Chair adjourned the House. You as the Speaker set a prior example to this country, so we urge you to explain the procedure the House should follow in the event of such a situation,” he added.