PCs WILL CONTINUE UNTIL PARLIAMENT DECIDES ELECTION DATE– Faiszer Musthapha
BY PANCHAMEE HEWAVISSENTI
The five-year tenure of the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and the Eastern Provincial Councils expire circa September-October 2017. This has prodded the Opposition in Parliament to intensify its collective demand that the government holds elections to these councils without any further delay, so as to uphold the people's constitutionally enshrined franchise.
Minister of Local Government and Provincial Council Affairs Faiszer Musthapha told Ceylon Today that Parliament is yet to decide on a date to hold the elections. "The government is trying to bring in reforms to the Constitution to facilitate the holding of all PC elections on one day," he explained.
Musthapha rubbished the slew of vitriolic allegations slung at the government by the Opposition, hitting back with the comment that the Opposition felt it would look impressive in the eyes of the public and thereby mask its insignificance.
The minister rubbed it in with the snide remark that "they need a spark to ignite."
?: Will the government hold elections this year since the tenures of three PCs will end in between September and October?
A: The government has resolved to hold elections to all PCs on one day and that is expected to be facilitated through appropriate Constitutional reforms. A specific date on which the elections are to be held will be determined by Parliament. The proposal has already been tabled before the Cabinet for consideration. It will be acted upon after Parliament ratifies it with a two-thirds majority vote.
?: When exactly can we expect the elections to be held?
A: The tenures of PCs such as North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provinces will end this year. In the case of some other PCs, their tenure will end in 2019. The government has decided to hold elections to all PCs on one day and Parliament will decide on a specific day to hold elections. All the Provincial Councils will function until that day.
?: For some PCs the terms end in 2019 and the government is going to hold elections to all the PCs on one day. Doesn't that imply the PC elections will be held in 2019?
A: Although I am the Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, I cannot decide when the elections are to be held. It should be decided by Parliament.
?: What does the government hope to achieve by delaying PC elections that are due this year and instead hold them on one day sometime in the future depending on constitutional reforms?
A: The previous regime held elections on a staggered basis. The government wants to put an end to that ineffectual practice which is the objective of holding all PC elections on one day.
In fact, the masses want all these elections to be held on one specific day because this will also eliminate wasteful and excessive expenditure on staggered elections.
?: The franchise is a universal right and especially enshrined in the Constitution. Isn't the government in effect depriving the voters of their right by delaying elections?
A: Although the franchise is positively their right, abusing power in elections and holding elections whenever the government chooses to do that are not necessarily measures which negate that right. I believe that the public want the elections to be held on one day.
?: Is the government going to implement the 20th Amendment ?
A: The 20th Amendment needs to be enacted first for it to be implemented.
?: The opposition and other interested groups claim that once the 20th Amendment to the Constitution is implemented, it vestsin Parliament the power to decide on the date for PC elections and that in itself will cause a further delay in holding elections on time. Any comments?
A: PCs were formed by Parliament and precisely there is no question of Parliament having power over PCs. I deny the claim of the Opposition that the delay is caused owing to the delay in implementation of the 20th Amendment.
The Opposition unleashes its usual vitriolic nonsense against the government to make its trifling presence felt in the public space and so they go on trying to deceive the masses with arguments that the holding of elections on one day is aimed at delaying them more.
Had Basil Rajapaksa properly implemented the delimitation of electoral districts, there was no need for the government to delay elections. I had to appear before the Court of Appeal as they had failed to make the required amendments to an Act that was legislated in 2012. Moreover, several technical amendments too had to be included and that caused the delay.
?: The Joint Opposition censures the government alleging that it is averse to holding elections out of fear of losing?
A: We united to topple the Rajapaksa regime and heralded a new era of democracy with the appointment of Maithripala Sirisena as the President. We were able to secure victory at such a challenging election and we emerged victorious at the subsequent general elections. Isn't it ludicrous therefore for them to claim that the government is afraid of losing out at PC elections?
?: Are the three PCs whose tenure expires in September too going to continue to function until the last PC's tenure lapses in 2019?
A: When it is said all PC elections will be held on one day, those three are no exception. That is why the government needs to bring in reforms to the Constitution. If the 20th Amendment is not passed, then the elections to the three PC s can be held this year when their tenure ends.
?: Will the proposed reforms be approved at a referendum?
A: The government does not see any requirement for holding a referendum. We believe that the Bill can be passed without a referendum.
?: When can we expect elections to Local Government institutions?
A: The Commissioner of Elections has stated that if the required amendments are made prior to 15 September, elections can be held this year. We are at present working towards that target.
?: Will there be an increase in female representation in the PC elections?
A: The government aims to bolster female representation at Provincial Council level. It has already been gazetted to increase 30 per cent of female representation at Provincial Councils. If Parliament passes that, 30 per cent of members of the Provincial Councils will be women.
?: Some members of the UPFA in the government have opined that the PC elections will be held this year. Why do government members hold divergent opinions?
A: They would have commented on the holding of PC elections prior to the bringing up of the proposal for Constitutional amendments. Moreover, anyone is entitled to their views.
?: A deadlock emerged at the North Central Provincial Council whose tenure expires at the end of this year when a group of JO members signed an affidavit to oust the Chief Minister. Repeated turmoil could be observed in the NCPC recently. Do you agree with the view that delaying PC elections may lead to many bitter issues emerging in PCs?
A: You are entitled to your opinion. I reiterate that PC elections will be held on one day and that is the requirement of the public.
Turmoil in PCs or bellicosity of councillors cannot impede the holding of elections on one day.
?: During the Chief Ministers' Summit in May, they stressed that more power should be devolved to PCs to prevent them turning into white elephants. Do you agree?
A: If the CMs perceive that more authority should be devolved to PCs, the President should bring in amendments that would facilitate devolving of increased authority to PCs. One also has to consider what specific extra powers they want devolved to the provinces. We are required to implement the 13th Amendment in full to grant powers to PCs.
?: What is the present status of progress in bringing to fruition the constitutional changes that were promised by President Sirisena during his election campaign?
A: No other President in the history of this country has agreed to curtail his executive powers. President Sirisena is the only one who has been liberal in curtailing some of his executive powers. He was willing to curtail certain other powers too that are vested in the executive presidency. The Supreme Court has however held that the President needs a referendum to curtail those executive powers.
When we study the 19th Amendment we can appreciate the fact in retrospect that President Sirisena has curtailed his executive powers and has delivered on his pledges.
Pix by: Laksiri Rukman
Solution must be acceptable to Tamils Separate State is not a reasonable request - Former Army Commander, General Gerry De Silva RWP, VSV, USP
- India joins Wassenaar Arrangement
- A story of two blockades New York City and Yemen
- Merkel’s Germany: Shaper or Taker of a United Europe?
- Wiggy request voters to elect honest politicians
- No Natural Disasters but man-made ones –Prof. Gomes
- Rejected nomination lists SLPP packed with incompetent people – Sagala
- ‘Samurdhi Shakthi’ to be launched To showcase Samurdhi families’ talents
- Chinese worker plunges to his death at Mahabage
- Garbage mounts at Gampaha Hospital Row over incinerator
- LG Elections JVP offers protection to ‘clean’ officials
- SLFP to launch manifesto this week
- President at SLMA
- Scuffle inside temple premises Chief Monk, two others injured
- Postal Unions threaten to Strike Demand for a ‘Closed Service’
- Russian ban on Lankan tea Govt ignored earlier warning - Udayanga
- Govt has no foreign policy - Namal
- CEB unions in strike threat Over simmering bonus issue
- Malaysian PM arrives
- Russian tea row President to contact Putin
- Beetle in Lankan tea shipment to Russia Exporter to be spared says Pethiyagoda
- Canadian Police probe ‘suspicious’ deaths of billionaire couple
- Stock Market Investor losses extend to Rs 94B
- Use of polythene in political rallies CEA to take on offenders
- Draft Legislation HRCSL advice not sought – UN Experts
- Drugs and drug users on the increase
- Sri Lanka dismissed for 215 in 3rd ODI
- Bowling in T10 can help T20 skills - Amir
- Dialog Champions League Java Lane beat Navy SC
- Army in nerve racking win
- Russia making progress over doping says Coe
- Australia close to Ashes glory
- County grind 'sucks pace' out of England quicks Finn
- Nidahas Trophy 2018 SL skipper formally invites India SLC
- One dead as fans clash after Algeria derby
- Real retains Club World Cup
- Ronaldo wants to retire at Real
- 31st NYSC-Rupavahini Volleyball Tournament CEB and SLAF win men’s/women’s titles
- City make it 16 in a row
- Dialog President’s Gold Cup Volleyball Championship finals commence today
- Premier League Inter Club Cricket Tournament High scoring draw at CCC
- Dhawan, spinners seal series for India
- Premier League – Tier ‘B’ Navy and Air Force win
- Visakhapatnam will favour the home team Batsmen to dominate decider
- Jadeja hits six sixes in an over
- Ntini’s son Thando in SA U-19 World Cup squad
- SLTB AND TEA CHAIRMEN ENDORSE NO PERIL, BUT AUCTION PRICES COULD DIP
- Commercial agriculture in Wet Zone will reap high rice yields CBSL Governor Dry Zone yields low, measures needed to arrest disturbing trend
- Treasury sells dollars to CBSL From H’tota Port proceeds
- Unions go back on their word - SriLankan Chairman
- Make up your minds – Harsha tells businessmen
- Recognition for SL power supplier
- Rupee down 2.54-2.61% YoY
- GDP rate shows positive trend
- Asian stocks come under pressure as dollar struggles
- Way forward for village power producers Team Up With Large Developers WB
- Workplace practices not fit for the New Year
- Brexit deal proves critics wrong - Theresa May
- WINNING GLOBAL CEO AWARD, MY SIGNATURE HONOUR Retired Kahawatte Plantations Plc Deputy Chairman and Watawala Plantations Plc Ceo, Dr. Daniel Vasanthakumar Seevaratnam reminisces
- IPM Sri Lanka crowned overall winner at NBEA 2017
- Desktop FriMi wins global Award
- CMA Sri Lanka graduation ceremony 2017
- LOLC Micro Credit felicitates Grade 5 scholarship high-flyers
- The Singing Christmas Tree comes alive once again at MLH
- Com Bank’s Vocational Training flagship CSR project
- Govt backtracks on anti-coal policy Two 600MW coal plants coming up
- Changing Political Horizons in Sri Lanka?
- Modi’s Gujarat:Installing a Rahul Gandhi Government
- Protect Wilpattu Movement set in motion 5K strong turnout march in peaceful protest to UN office & handover petition
- Concretes & Abstracts Faith, Wayside Shrines & Urban Sprawl
- TGTE using Lawyers to challenge SL’s 6th amendment
- Nat Assets during Prabhakaran’s and Ranil’s heydays
- Mexican drug wars:Women murders on the rise
- Ahead of the LG Polls Identifying 500,000 untagged Lankans!
- Indian movie moguls Avoiding the Weinstein effect
- New Land Draft BiLL Political wrangling hinders ironing out complex land issues
- Maithri should not sit in a Cabinet sans SLFPers
- Wigneswaran sowing seeds of communalism
- SLFP supports devolution of power – Lasantha Alagiyawanna
- If Bond scammers are not prosecuted…President will lose his credibility –Bandula Gunawardena
- All information security issues are not cyber crimes
- Sirisena Presidency - A Parallax View As foretold by Sobhitha Hamuduruwo
- Blessed are the peacemakers
- Disinformation campaigns and public mistrust
- Kemadruma Yoga An evil yoga cancelling all other favourable yogas
- Sun into Sagittarius ‘Kona Month’ has just begun
- Inviting wrath of goddess Lakshmi
- Five Yoga Poses to Calm Your Mind
- Rahu in 7th House and marriage
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Our children and our cinema
- INTERPRETING ASIAN CINEMA: CHALLENGES AHEAD
- How Sanskrit journalism is slowly hogging headlines
- ice manufacturing in South Asia
- CMSC’s season finale concert
- Two documentaries on Sri Lanka in Film South Asia 2017
- Politics of nostalgia
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- I don’t get asked out
- Homemade apple & Chocolate Bodywash
- THE WRITER’S KITCHENETTE HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES Grinch Cupcakes
- New York Blast Terror charges filed against NY bomber
- Saga of Kohukumbure Rate Rala
- Attygalle murder and John Kotelawala Senior’s suicide