Committee on Public Finance: Govt wins Chair
By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake
Disagreements between Government ranks and the main Opposition Party legislators led to a vote being taken on the motion regarding the Chair of the Committee on Public Finance.
It was passed with a majority of 60 votes in Parliament on 23 October, thus enabling the Committee Members to decide on the Chair. The motion received 87 votes for and 17 votes against it.
When the motion was moved at the commencement of public business by Leader of the House and Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarians opposed it, saying, the Chair should be given to the Opposition. SJB Colombo District MP Dr. Harsha de Silva got up and opposed the moving of the motion, saying, it was undemocratic. The Chair of the Committee should be given to the Opposition, he said.
Gunawardena: “How could you say that we are undemocratic? Read the minutes of the Committee. Do not come here without reading the minutes. This has been agreed in the Committee.”
SJB Kurunegala District MP Nalin Bandara: “As per the Standing Order Number 121, this post should be given to the Opposition.”
Dr. de Silva: “The Opposition has only one Chairmanship in all the Committees. This is an issue of democratic practice in the House. I have been proposed by my Party for the post of the Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance. Is the Government afraid of me?”
Gunawardena: “Dr. de Silva does not know the facts. The decision to vest that power with the Committee was taken by the Committee itself. The most democratic manner is vesting the power of electing a Chairman to the Committee with the Committee Members. The Government commands the majority. If you do not agree, let’s put this for a vote in the House and we can act according to the result of the vote.”
Speaker of the Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena: “Let’s move the House for a vote.”
Accordingly, the vote was taken and the Government’s motion was passed with a majority of 60 votes.