PC Amendment Bill passed with 2/3 majority

Published : 9:05 am  September 21, 2017 | No comments so far |  |  (267) reads | 
  •  Some PC polls will get delayed due to added provisions to Bill   
  •  JVP, TNA both with Govt.

 

By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana   

The Provincial Council Elections Amendment Bill was passed by a two thirds majority in Parliament last night. The Bill was passed amidst several hiccups.   

Altogether 159 members voted for it while 34 members voted against. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) voted with the government while the joint opposition opposed it.   


The government had to face several anxious moments when the Attorney General sent a message saying the legislation needed to be passed with a two thirds majority. His opinion was sought following a request made by the joint opposition to this effect.   


Several objections raised by Minister Rauff Hakeem and by the members representing the estate sector including Minister P. Digambaram also added to government woes according to informed sources. 


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government had decided to entertain some amendments proposed by minority parties. “We don’t want any community whether it is the majority or minorities to feel they are not being heard,” he said.   


At that point joint opposition Parliamentarian Keheliya Rambukwella joined the debate and complained to the Speaker with regards to the delaying tactics of the government. He said “the debate was extended indefinitely until we protested against it. “It is high time we took up the vote. Mr Speaker, please doesn’t allow the government to have its way,” he appealed to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.   


He charged that the MPs who were not scheduled to speak at the debate were allowed to express their views at the last moment. The House was adjourned at that time for nearly half an hour. The House was adjourned earlier as well when the joint opposition objected saying the Bill needed to be referred to the provincial councils and the ministerial oversight committee before being debated in Parliament.   


Minister of Local Government Faiszer Musthapha then wound up the debate and the vote on the second reading was taken up.It was passed with 157 members voting for it and 45 against. Confusion reigned at this point when Minister Arjuna Ranatunga was found to have abstained from voting. However, Mr. Ranatunga confirmed that he had in fact voted in favour.   


The third reading was also passed with 159 members voting for it and 34 against.   The Bill provides provisions for the introduction of a mixed electoral system for the provincial councils under which 60 per cent of the members of a council will be elected under the first past the post system and 40 per cent using the proportional representation system. It also gives provision to ensure 30 per cent representation for women, while the President is to appoint a committee to overlook the delimitation process within two weeks.   


The delimitation process will have to be completed within four months as per the agreement reached by the parties. However this will lead to the postponement of the elections for the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern Provincial Councils whose terms end next month.