By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent
Making use of the special Parliamentary sitting held yesterday, lawmakers passed the Municipal Councils (Amendment) Bill, Urban Councils (Amendment) Bill and the Pradeshiya Sabha (Amendment) Bill with amendments without calling for a division.
“These three bills are amended for the purpose of having 60% under the ward system and 40% under the PR system. This was to meet the requirement of mentioning the specific numbers of members in each of these three local governments. So these amendments should be considered as technical changes, which will support both the Ward and the PR system. The amendments will empower the Minister to make the necessary decisions,” said Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha while moving the motion in Parliament.
Assuring the country that no further amendments were required and the elections would be held in January, the Minister said: “The Government is moving progressively, especially with female representation in politics. The Government discusses matters first. This was not common in the past where leaders didn’t discuss matters in the past. Even MP Dinesh Gunawardena realised the importance of this change regardless of some members of his team saying otherwise. Some held that I was deliberately trying to postpone the elections. It is false and neither the Government nor I have any reasons to delay the elections. I assure you that with this amendment going though, followed by a motion, we could have the elections in January 2018.”
Speaker clears doubts over Provincial Council Elections (Amendment) bill
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya confirmed to Parliament the standing orders were followed to pass the Provincial Council Elections (Amendment) bill and refuted media reports on the process the Bill went through in the House.
Addressing Parliament yesterday, the Speaker said: “I have observed that false public opinion is being formed with regard to the process of passing the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) bill on 20 September. The wrong information was used by certain print as well as electronic media institutes. The Bill and the proposed amendment were discussed also at the party leaders’ meeting and by the House Committee in length.”
“There was a need for additional time to draft some of the amendments and the process came to an end at around 7.45 p.m. There was no delay or additional increase of time of the sittings of the House. The Bill was taken up for the third reading and had been duly passed in accordance with the provisions of the Standing Orders when the House received relevant amendments and the debate came to an end,” explained Speaker Jayasuriya. (AH)