- Document withdrawn on Tuesday later resubmitted by Kiriella without changes
- Opposition slams Rs. 19 m allocation for Minister’s residence, Rs. 42 m for Opposition Leader vehicle
By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent
The Government was yesterday criticised for resubmitting a Rs. 56 billion supplementary allocation it had withdrawn earlier in the day on Tuesday without making the changes it had said it would do.
Opposition lawmakers drew Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s attention seeking discipline in the Parliament pertaining to important documents which are governed by the Finance Act. The Rs. 56 billion allocation included Rs. 19 million for repairs made to a Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella’s official residence and Rs. 42 million allocation to purchase a new vehicle for Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Former Deputy Speaker and United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance MP Chandima Weerakkody who was on his feet criticised Kiriella for making the move at the tail end of the sitting when media was not available in the Chamber.
“Soon after the supplementary allocation was presented the Leader of the House withdrew it. But later on in the day, he made a statement of reversing the withdrawal. Unable to decide, the presiding member JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake passed the request to the Speaker’s attention. Now that the Speaker is in the Chamber, we would request his ruling whereas the Leader of the House should not be allowed to act inappropriately,” he said.
MP Rathnayake confirming the incident held that he raised issues in the morning that led the Government to withdraw the questionable supplementary allocation and later on the day the Leader of the House reversed the withdrawal when he was occupying the Speaker’s chair.
“Later when I was presiding, Kiriella again withdrew the earlier withdrawal and said that the Rs. 19 million allocations in that supplementary estimate were not for him but for the repair of another minister’s official residence. However, as I felt it was unsuitable for me to debate the matter with the Leader of the House while I was presiding the Chair. I directed the matter to the Secretary-General for Speaker’s attention. However, my view is that the Leader of the House has no special power on this matter as this is not a mere ministry document or a statement. This is an important document, which the Finance Committee has endorsed. When such an important document is presented and withdrawn it should be done responsibly. Therefore, I agree with what was said by former Deputy Speaker and MP Chandima Weerakkody,” he said.
However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya held that as there had been several errors in the supplementary allocation that need to be rectified.
On Tuesday the Government moved a supplementary allocation to inform the Parliament the use of Rs. 56,545,947,370 out of Rs. 80,253,533,000 passed in Parliament during Budget 2019 for both recurrent and capital expenditure under the head 240 for the purposes of Supplementary Support Services and Contingent Liabilities. These included Rs. 19 million allocated for the repair of Kiriella’s official residence and Rs. 42 million for a new vehicle for the Leader of the Opposition.