Thursday, 6 March 2014 01:07
By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Our Lobby Correspondent
Unhappy due to members giving contradictory answers misleading the house in favour of the Government, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was adamant that it was time that he delivered a personal explanation on the controversial Colombo Port City project and the CCCC deal.
He found it misleading to the house as a violation of its member’s privileges. “The Minister and the Leader of the House of Parliament made contradictory statements. May be it is an officer who in the Ministry leaked it and a wrong report was given. I know for a fact that the Leader of the House of Parliament will not deliberately do it but would scoot away in such situation. Action has to be taken for misleading the house. Here the report states the handing over of ownership of 20 hectares but the Cabinet paper reveals the handing over of 108 hectares on a 99 year lease. There is a big disparity between the Cabinet paper and the company report. It is also said that there were no other places to be found in the Colombo city to execute the reclaiming program. Let us know your decision on tabling the complete report in this house,” Wickremesinghe said.
Unless the Government falls in line, Wickremesinghe, who plans to make a special statement in the Parliament as a privilege entitled to party leaders said: “Once I make a personal explanation tomorrow you could decide to respond or skip.
“You can ask the officials about the reasons for the disparity in hectares. If you want a debate let us have the CCCC report and the finding of the Cabinet appointed committee. The Patrick Geddes report in 1921, the Patrick Abercrombie report in 1948, UNDP report in 1978, other reports came out in 1985, 1996, 2004 were all published. The report published in 1996 had 12 volumes of 2000 pages. The 2004 report had three volumes of 212 pages. So, a lorry was not required.”
In response Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management and the Leader of the House of Parliament Nimal Siripala de Silva said: “There is no mechanism here to decide the validity of a statement given in this house in response to Standing Orders 23 92) but simply accept it. The public will decide if it is true or false. But you can ask for a debate on the same allowing both the Government and the Opposition to table the facts. You can’t raise privilege issues over it. We can also get the respective officials for this debate.”
Speaker Chamal Rajapakse also held that privileges were not breached. “I think the public as well as the Parliament has the right to know all details of the mega projects. There will be no doubts if presented in the Parliament.”