Parliament to vote on 20A draft bill today

Parliament to vote on 20A draft bill today

October 22, 2020   09:11 am

The vote on the draft bill of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution is scheduled for this evening (22).

Members of Parliament commenced the debate on the proposed bill last morning (21) and will proceed with the debate from 10.00 am to 7.30 pm for the second consecutive day today.

The Committee Stage of the proposed 20th Amendment is expected to commence at 7.30 pm post the debate and the legislators will vote on the draft bill thereafter.

Minister of Justice, President’s Counsel Ali Sabry, presenting the draft bill to the House yesterday (21), said it will be amended to limit the Cabinet of Ministers to 30 portfolios with another 40 non-Cabinet portfolios, and the Emergency Bills will be limited to cases of national disaster or events affecting national security, among other amendments.

Delivering his speech to the House, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had said the 20th Amendment to the Constitution is brought into force to remove the 19th Amendment which turned the country into anarchy.

It is reported that Serjeant-at-Arms of Parliament Narendra Fernando had informed the Secretary to the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine to take steps in order to allow Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen to attend the parliamentary sittings today (22) and tomorrow (23).

The Serjeant-at-Arms took this measure following an order given by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena at the Committee on Parliamentary Business held yesterday.

The United National Party (UNP) meanwhile said it is gravely concerned by the government’s decision to continue with the presentation of the 20th Amendment to Parliament, and the subsequent debate, despite the Supreme Court’s determination that several clauses of this amendment require a referendum by the people.

The UNP called on all Members of Parliament, including those from the government benches, to vote against or refrain from voting in favour of this bill which “threatens the democratic foundation that Sri Lanka has been built upon.”

MP of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Kavinda Jayawardena has stated that the Opposition members intend to give their all to defeat the draft bill.

Meanwhile, State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said a group of Opposition members have agreed to support the government in the 20th Amendment vote.

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