PM wants those found guilty of serious crimes stripped of civic rights


By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday asked the political parties represented in Parliament whether they would support amending the Section 81 of the Constitution to deprive a person found guilty of serious crimes of his civic rights.

Commencing the adjournment debate on the bond commission report and the presidential commission report on serious crimes and abuse of power in Parliament the Prime Minister said the PRECIFAC had recommended the amendment of section 81 of the Constitution to provide for scrapping the civic rights of a person found guilty of serious crimes. "Are the party leaders ready to amend section 81 of the Constitution or are they scared of doing so?"

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said legislation pertaining to reorganisation of the Central Bank would be tabled in Parliament soon

as recommended by the bond commission. "We will also present legislation to create a budget office soon", he said. 

The PM said the debate on the bond commission and on PRECIFAC had to be taken up on Tuesday as the Chairman of the Election Commission had informed him that the local government election would have to be postponed if the debate was held on Feb. 8 as planned earlier. 

"I asked the Speaker to convene the House today following a request made by Chief Opposition whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who wanted the debate held before the local government election. This was following my earlier request to convene Parliament on January 10 following the request made by the party leaders. It was the party leaders who finally decided to have a three days debate."

"The Bond Commission report was presented to President on 30th December 2017. Based on the subsequent request for a debate, I wrote to the Speaker on 10th January 2018. However, the JVP pointed out the need for having the report tabled in Parliament to continue with the debate. So, I made a clarification, which was interrupted causing the House to be adjourned. On 23 January the reports were presented to Parliament. The party leaders discussed the matters with the Speaker and it was agreed to debate both reports on the 19th February. However, in keeping with a letter from Speaker highlighting a request received from the JVP to summon the Parliament, we agreed to meet on 7 February. In response to the objections raised by the Elections Commission, we had to advance the debate to 6 February. The Prime Minister can only summon Parliament. The debate could be continued on the 20th and 21st of February providing opportunity for the members who are not present to express their views.

"Action has been taken on the Treasury Bond issuance. Statements were obtained and some suspects were produced before the court and are in custody. Actions against those who are mentioned in the second report is pending. A few are members of this House. Apart from that, it is also recommended in the reports to amend some regulations pertaining to the Central Bank. We are in the process of making these laws effective from 2016. We are also looking at reorganising the operations of the Central Bank. This will be decided by Parliament. It is also essential to consider amending Article 81. The Attorney General has provided me with a report of the actions taken on the COPE report, which also was presented to the Speaker. At the moment the Central Bank governor confirmed to have retained Rs.12 billion belonging to Perpetual Treasuries".

JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the Prime Minister had in his speech avoided the bond scams. "There is a big debate in the country on the issue, which has created a serious impact on our lives. It was not discussed as it should have been."

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