Bond debate EC prevails: PM relents


By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday consented to have a parliamentary debate on Feb 06 on two reports from the bond commission and the PRECIFAC (Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges).

The PM initially decided to have the debate on Feb. 08. But, Chairman of the Election Commission (EC) Mahinda Deshapriya Elections Commission Chairman raised concerns about his decision as all election propaganda activities had to end at midnight on Feb 07. He pointed out that the parties in parliament would make use of the opportunity to extend their campaigning and he could not prevent it. If the debate were to take place on Feb 08 it would be unfair by the parties and groups contesting the polls without their presence in Parliament.

Meanwhile, EC member Prof. Rathnajeevan Hoole was quoted by the media as having said if Parliament decided to conduct the debate on Feb. 08, the EC would have to seriously consider postponing the local government polls.

The Prime Minister relented following an inquiry made by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who came under pressure from the opposition parties to have the debate prior to Feb. 10 polls.

Earlier in the day Speaker Jayasuriya informed the leaders of parties represented in Parliament that he would consult the Prime Minister to see whether the debate could be held before the elections and make an announcement thereafter, parliament sources told The Island.

The Speaker made that promise during a special party leaders’ meeting held in the Parliament complex. The meeting presided by Speaker Jayasuriya was attended by Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella, MP Ravi Karunanayake, TNA MP MA Sumanthiran, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, Joint Opposition leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena and JVP MP Vijitha Herath. All three members of the Elections Commission, Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, Dr. Nalin Jayantha Abeysekera, Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole and additional Commissioner MM Mohammed also attended the meeting held to make a final decision on the proposed debate.

It had been decided to summon parliament at 10.30 am on Feb 06 to debate the reports of the bond commission and the PRECIFAC, Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Neil Iddawela told The Island.

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