The Parliament Select Committee to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments, has decided to make the necessary legal amendments to hold the Provincial Council Elections expeditiously.
The Parliamentary Select Committee met recently under the chairmanship of Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, the Parliament Communications Department said.
Minister of Finance Basil Rajapaksa pointed out that a number of problems have arisen in the country due to the inactivity of the Provincial Councils for more than three years. It is not fair for one person to control the provincial council, he added.
At present the local government bodies and the Parliament are in an active state. Only Provincial Councils remain inactive. Therefore, the Minister of Finance emphasised that action should be taken to hold the Provincial Council election expeditiously.
The committee members pointed out that in the current situation action should be taken to hold the provincial council elections under the old electoral system.
Gunawardena said that it was appropriate to present the necessary legal amendments to Parliament in January next year in order to hold the elections.
The need to work towards a fair representation of women in making such amendments was also discussed by the committee. “The majority opinion is that a mixed electoral system is suitable for the country,” he said.
Minister Gunawardena emphasised that many political parties as well as independent groups that testified in the committee were of the same opinion.
The Expert Committee appointed to analyse proposals submitted to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System also submitted its proposals to the Parliamentary Select Committee.
Speaking on behalf of the committee, its Chairman, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, pointed out that the general public opinion was that the number of seats in local government bodies should be reduced. He pointed out that it was not practical to reduce the number of divisions and that the number of seats should be reduced from the proportional representation.
He also said that some members of the expert committee were of the view that the number of seats should be reduced from both the divisional and proportional representation, adding that it was advisable to maintain the female representation at 25%.
“Parliamentary and provincial council elections should be held under the same system. It is advisable to keep the number of seats in the 225 limits in Parliament,” he said.
Prof. Liyanage also stressed that a proper procedure should be devised for the appointment of Members of Parliament from the National List.
Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Pavithradevi Wanniarachchi, Members of Parliament Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Anura Dissanayake, Mano Ganesan, M.A. Sumanthiran, Madura Vithanage and Sagara Kariyawasam, were also present at the committee meeting. Officials from the Attorney General’s Department and the Delimitation Commission were also present. The next meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee is scheduled to be held 22 October, the Secretary to the Select Committee, Deputy Secretary General & Chief of Staff of Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera said.