Prez has no hand in PCs defeating Super Ministry Bill

SLFP hasn’t discussed the move – spokesman


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

President of the National Youth Front (NYF) of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Shantha Bandara yesterday claimed that President Maithripala Sirisena had not directed any Provincial Council to defeat the Development (Special Provisions) Bill, popularly known as the Super Ministry Bill.

Former MP Bandara was responding to a query by The Island at a media briefing at SLFP headquarters in Colombo.

The Development (Special Provisions) Bill, gazetted in late November, envisages the creation of regional bodies for purposes of co-ordinating development by creating a one-stop access for investors to start investing in Sri Lanka, but opposition parties allege that the bill ultimately will take back the powers vested with the Provincial Councils (PCs) and even with the President and it would confer extraordinary powers on a super ministry.

All PCs except Northern Provincial Council (NPC) are controlled by the SLFP. Seven PCs out of nine have so far defeated the controversial Bill.

Reiterating that there was no political motive behind the rejection of the bill by SLFP controlled PCs former Minister Bandara said the move had not been discussed within the SLFP and President Sirisena was not aware of it.

He said the PCs had rejected the Bill as they had not been apprised of the content of the Bill in advance.

However, several chief ministers met PM Wickremesinghe last week and the latter undertook to introduce some amendments to the bill to allay their fears.

Meanwhile, Southern Provincial Councilor Pasanda Yapa said the members of his council hadn’t even cared to read the Bill before defeating it on Tuesday.

All right thinking persons took exception to the powers given up by the President being vested in some other institution, he added. There was a need to establish a one-stop unit to accelerate the local and foreign investments flowing to the country but it should not be governed by a single person, Yapa said, noting that the unit must be a collection of representatives of all required institutions to start an investment in the country.

The Development (Special Provisions) Draft Bill is to be presented in Parliament in Feb. 2017 with amendments.

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