Party leaders back down on bonanza for MPs amidst growing public protests

By Saman Indrajith

Party leaders yesterday decided to withdraw their plan to grant increased allowances to MPs in the face of  growing countrywide displeasure.

The decision had been taken at the party leaders meeting at the Parliamentary Complex with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya presiding, parliament sources said.

The party leaders agreed not to submit the proposal for the approval of the Cabinet of ministers.

It had been previously decided to submit the proposal to the Cabinet meeting yesterday evening.

The eleventh hour change came after countrywide protests by people against MPs getting increased allowances while heavy taxes were imposed on public, according to sources.

However, the leaders agreed to proceed with the proposal of paying Rs. 50,000 as a housing allowance to the MPs who are not resident at the Madiwela MPs housing complex. 

Speaker Jayasuriya had proposed that the earlier proposal should be withdrawn and party leaders had consented, sources said.

The government has agreed to hold Sectoral Oversight Committees and Ministerial Consultative Committees together following a request from the MPs who pointed out that the presence of subject ministers was not mandatory in the sectoral oversight committees and their freedom was not ensured as in the case of consultative committees.

The party leaders agreed to hold the first meeting of the Constitutional Assembly on April 05 for formulating a new constitution and a new electoral system.

The Constitutional Assembly will meet in the Chamber of Parliament with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya presiding. It is scheduled to appoint seven deputy chairmen. For that purpose there should be a quorum of 20 MPs in the chamber, sources said.

An operational committee comprising not less than 17 members including the Prime Minister, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition and Minister of Justice would be appointed, sources said. That operational committee would be empowered to appoint any number of sub committees.

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