Steering Committee to present interim report soon: PM

Published : 7:00 am  April 26, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Yohan Perera   
The Constitutional Assembly Steering Committee is expected to submit its interim report shortly  and it will be taken up for debate soon after, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.  

He said this at the opening sessions of the Regional Conference of Young Parliamentarians of Asia Pacific Region organized by the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU), UNDP and the Sri Lankan Parliament.  

“The Steering Committee is preparing its interim report on different areas including the Executive, the Judiciary, Human Rights and Power Devolution. The report will be taken up for debate soon after it is tabled,” the Prime Minister said.   

He said new buildings were being acquired because Parliament was in need of more space and while defending the newly-established sectoral oversight committees he said this matter would be reviewed soon.   

“Not only the government but the opposition also has to be strengthened in Parliament. That was why oversight committees were introduced. These committees are not found in a Cabinet system of Parliament. In a Cabinet system ministers take decisions and opposition MPs express their views in Parliament. At times they feel helpless. Oversight committees, which are seen as the best compromise, were introduced after amending the Standing Orders. Some questioned the effectiveness of oversight committees. However, they have been functioning well. We have to see how oversight committees function in countries such as the US and how they function in the European Parliament and in Germany. We are now coming close to having a general agreement on oversight committees. These committees look into areas which a minister many not have the time to look into. Oversight committees have come to stay and it is time to review the oversight committees,” the Prime Minister said. “We will strengthen the powers of the committees dealing with public finance, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). We have introduced a committee on public finance. We are now drafting a Bill to have a separate budget office in Parliament. That is the backup we are providing to strengthen Parliament.”   

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said young parliamentarians have a role to play in preventing extremism and violence associated with it. “Ethnic and religious extremism leads to violence and it is up to the young MPs to prevent such things,” he said and added that Sri Lanka had faith in its youth who could save future generations.   

IPU President Saber Chowdhury stressed the importance of finding the root causes for extremism. “We are not merely treating the symptoms of extremism but trying to identify its root causes to prevent it altogether,” he said emphasising the theme of the conference.