The Leader of the Opposition can summon state officials and seek clarifications on any matter at any time, but he cannot attend commitee meetings and question them, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament today.
The Speaker who gave the ruling on Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa attending the meeting of the Committee on Public Finance ( COPF) on June 30 when the domestic debt restructuring programme was taken for discussions, said Mr. Premadasa’s presence at the COPF meeting was not appropriate.
Mr. Premadasa who responded said he attended the COPF meeting to question relevant state officials on the impact which the domestic debt restructuring would have on the EPF and ETF.
“I wanted specific information on domestic debt restructuring and would have got important information if I had the opportunity of questioning the officials. I will therefore summon all government officials from now on, and if they don’t turn up my privileges will be violated. I therefore, state that the Speaker will be responsible if my privileges are violated,” he said.
Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella said the Opposition Leader attended COPF following a request by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to support the domestic debt restructuring process.
“You seem to be having an issue with the President and that is why you are trying to sabotage his efforts,” MP Kiriella told the Speaker.
The Speaker refuted this claim and said he has no issue with the President.
Arguments arose at this point where the Speaker was accused of putting a sudden stop to the debate on the domestic debt restructuring. However, the Speaker said he sought approval of the House to extend the session till the vote on the resolution was completed on July 01, 2023.
Chief Government Whip Prasanna Ranatunga said even six members of the ruling party lost the opportunity of speaking at the debate on the domestic debt restructuring programme and that the approval of the House was duly sought for the extention of time till voting was completed. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)