SJB will oppose 20A – Alawathuwala
By Sumudu Chamara
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), as the main opposition party, will only support a ‘19 Plus’ Amendment, and will strictly not extend its support to the 20th Amendment drafted by the Government, Parliamentarian J.C. Alawathuwala said yesterday (15).
Speaking to the Media in Colombo, he criticised the Government for breaking the tradition of appointing an opposition party member to the chairmanship of committees such as the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) which, according to him, ensured unbiased functioning of these committees. He added, the Government appointing its members to chair these committees raises concerns about these committees’ transparency. “Through the 20th Amendment, the Government is blocking Parliament’s opportunity to investigate how taxpayers’ money is being spent,” he alleged.
Parliamentarian Alawathuwala went on to state the Government, that talked about transparency, has exempted the offices of the Prime Minister and President from being audited, in a context where all public institutions including ministries and departments maintaining taxpayers’ money are being audited.
He added that as it is uncertain who drafted the 20th Amendment, there’s nobody to respond to criticism levelled against it. He also alleged that the 20th Amendment shows signs that the Government is trying to push the country towards militarisation, going beyond a dictatorial rule.
Speaking at the same Media briefing, SJB member Eranda Weliange questioned as to whether the 20th Amendment actually represents people’s interests. He went on to question the necessity of amending certain parts of the 20th Amendment regarding allowing a dual citizen to enter Parliament and reducing the minimum age to run for President to 30.
Weliange added that allowing the Government to dissolve Parliament before the completion of the five-year term would lead to squandering of public funds, as holding an election costs a massive amount of taxpayers’ money.