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POSTED AT 10:09 AM 14-03-2019

Sirisena comes under fire from JVP

Image Courtesy: Onlanka News

- Anura Kumara says President should not be given increased allocation under Budget
- But all expenditures passed unanimously

President Maithripala Sirisena came under fire in Parliament yesterday by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who charged that President Sirisena had relegated the Constitution to be worth less than a paper used to wrap peanuts on the roadside.

Joining the Committee Stage Debate of Budget 2019, Dissanayake charged Sirisena with repeated questionable conduct, and for failing to give an acceptable explanation to the country. Proposing that it is not justifiable to allocate money for the President, the JVP leader went on to list Sirisena’s questionable conduct during the last three years. 

“The Voice Against Corruption organisation lodged many complaints with the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption. Although investigations were conducted, the Commission is not allowed to take legal action against those who are involved in major frauds. Commission has taken action against ordinary people, such as minor staff, constables, Grama Niladharis, and technical officers found guilty. No action was taken against the Ministers and top personalities, including the First Lady of the Rajapaksa regime. The President should tell Parliament why he removed the Director-General. We passed the Bribery Act and we pass funds. We expected him in Parliament today to respond to these charges,” he said.

Bringing Sirisena’s continuous criticism of the Constitutional Council into the limelight, Dissanayake held that the President has violated the Constitution by appointing acting Chairman of the Court of Appeal Deepali Wijesundara without the recommendation of the Constitutional Council. “Acting appointments can be given if the existing Chairman is unable to execute his duties for health issues, and not available in the country. This President is considering the Constitution on par with a paper used to wrap peanuts. All the cases heard at the Court of Appeal can be contested at the Supreme Court,” he said. The National Procurement Commission, a body established to conduct the investigation on appeals or malpractices reported by bidders, was also highlighted to be under the influence of Sirisena. “Using a Cabinet paper dated January 2018, the President has removed the enforcing power vested with the National Procurement Commission. This is another instance of the President submitting a Cabinet paper violating the Constitution. As a result, the appeals are now heard at the Presidential Secretariat. So, how can a bidder lodge a complaint against the procurement procedures of the Presidential Secretariat? The chances are less than zero that such a complaint will be accepted and investigated,” he said.

According to Dissanayake, a bench comprised of seven Supreme Court judges have found the President violated the Constitution by dissolving Parliament. 

“The President can only appoint Ministers based on the list the Prime Minister provides. By appointing Ministers without a list from the Prime Minister, he has violated the Constitution. During the 52 days, a certain MP took oaths as the Deputy Health Minister. Nobody knows about this appointment. Can we allow this President to continue to joke? He was appointed for five years, but should not start meddling with the Constitution,” charged MP Dissanayake.

Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent