Perera has conflict of interest – CPA

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Dhammika Perera has business interests in several public and private companies and the decisions made by Perera as a legislator, and possibly as a future Minister, would possibly create a direct conflict of interest, Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) stressed in a statement.

Perera was not a member of the SLPP until a few days ago and that in any event his name was not included in the list of persons qualified to be elected as MPs, in terms of Article 99A of the Constitution
(the National List) or any of the district lists submitted by the SLPP for the Parliamentary Election held in August 2020, the CPA said.

“These conflicts of interest are not resolved simply by Perera resigning from official positions held within the companies as he would nonetheless stand to gain significant financial benefits. These circumstances make it all the more important why the citizens of Sri Lanka should have known of Perera’s potential of being appointed to Parliament when they voted in the Parliamentary Election held in August 2020,” CPA said.

Additionally, the practice of appointing ‘any member’ of a political party, who was not nominated at the relevant election, violates the franchise of the people. If as the Constitution suggests the people are indeed the sovereign of the Republic, then the people should know before an election who the political party intends to appoint to Parliament.

“Allowing political parties to appoint whomever they wish to fill vacancies that are engineered for that purpose undermines the value of the franchise of the people and unnecessarily and arbitrarily inflates the power of the leadership of political parties,” it was stated.

The constitutional purpose of the National List is to ensure representation for sections of public opinion and smaller minorities that may not otherwise find parliamentary representation through the electoral process. It is not to facilitate the narrow self-interest of any political party or the ambitions of any individual. CPA thus calls on the SLPP and all other political parties to respect the provisions of the Constitution and the franchise of the people, CPA added.

Additionally, if businesses, in which Perera has an interest in, enter into or continue with contracts ‘made by or on behalf of the State or a public corporation,’ this could be a violation of Article 91(1) (e) of the Constitution, the CPA said. (AK)