Bond Commission Report : How many pages? Members’ query | Sunday Observer

Bond Commission Report : How many pages? Members’ query

The Government and Opposition lawmakers found fault with the Bond Commission report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday (January 23) and queried about President Maithripala Sirisena’s statement which said the Bond Commission Report comprised more than 6,000 pages while the version presented to Parliament had only 1,152 pages. The Joint Opposition (JO) and JVP members drew the attention of the Speaker and asked how they could debate the Treasury Bond scam when they didn’t have the full information and requested the Speaker to provide them the full report.

The JVP and JO MPs airing their views, demanded the Speaker to summon the Secretary to the President and question him on misleading Parliament by providing an incomplete copy of the Bond Commission report. UPFA MP Bandula Gunawardena, speaking first, pointed out, the President had said the report he received from the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that investigated the Treasury Bond scam had more than 6,000 pages. MP Gunawardena pointed out, the report given to MPs had only 1,154 pages so that they are not in a position to debate the matter due to the lack of full information. He requested the Speaker to discuss the issue with the President and ensure that they get the complete report.

Leader of the House and Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella on Tuesday (January 23) tabled in Parliament the report of the Bond Commission and 34 reports of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC).

JointOpposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said, all media channels telecast the President’s statement that there were more than 6,000 pages in the Bond Commission Report, but they have not received them.

Responding to queries raised by the JO and JVP members, Minister Kiriella told the House that the MPs should accept the report sent to Parliament by the President. The Minister said, if the JO and JVP MPs say there are missing pages in the report, there cannot be a debate. “ You can’t have the cake and eat the cake,” the Minister told the Opposition members. In addition, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said all relevant annexures of the Bond Commission report will be tabled in Parliament and they will not allow anything to be swept under the carpet.

All those held responsible for the Treasury bond scam will be brought to book he said, and assured that the Commission report had not been given to any politician before being tabled in Parliament.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya responding said, the President’s Secretary by letter has informed him that the Bond Commission had received many documents in the process of conducting investigations and some of them had to be bound separately as annexures.

The Government Printer had been tasked with binding the annexures and once this task is completed they too would be provided to the MPs.

Meanwhile, JO Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said Party leaders agreed to have the Parliamentary debate on the Bond Commission report on February 20 and 21. He said the JVP and JO tried their best to have the debate on two special sitting days before the LG election, but the Government turned down their request on the ground that the MPs and Ministers were busy with electioneering.

The JO and JVP members who attempted to make a big hue and cry in the House queried as to how the Yahapalana Government could continue in office since the MoU on the National Unity Government had lapsed on December 31, 2017. They argued, the National Government is invalid without the renewal of the agreement between the UNP and SLFP. MP Gunawardena pointed out, the Government under the pretext of the National Government has appointed more Ministers than the constitutionally stipulated number.

He drew attention to the fact that the National Government was formed subsequent to a parliamentary motion in 2015 which permitted the increase in the number of Ministers. However, the UNP-SLFP MoU signed for a National Government expired on December 31, 2017. Gunawardena said, the Prime Minister should be consulted by the President prior to making any ministerial appointment in terms of the Constitution and demanded to know whether the Premier was consulted over the appointment of State Ministers Sriyani Wijewickrama and Piyasena Gamage last month.

Minister Lakshman Kiriella said, the Prime Minister would reply this question at a future date and asked in a lighter vein whether MP Gunawardena is against the appointment of MP Wijewickrama as a State Minister. MP Gunawardena said “No, but you can keep her with you. She has done a somersault.”

He said it was irrelevant to what he asked and added that he is raising a serious question with regard to the violation of the Constitution. Minister Kiriella said there is no legal problem and they are ready to accept any member who crosses over.

The Minister told the Opposition MPs that the National Government is entirely their internal matter. Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake questioned whether the Speaker had received the renewed agreement between the two parties. The Speaker answered he has not received any official communication in this regard.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Wednesday (January 24) refused to grant permission to UNP Colombo District MP Ravi Karunanayake to make a special statement on the Bond Commission report. When MP Karunayake got up to make the statement raising a privilege issue, the Speaker said he could not permit him to do so. This led to an argument between the MP and the Speaker. MP Karunayake said, he has been an MP for 24 years.

He said there are serious allegations tarnishing his image and that his privileges have been breached, and requested that he be permitted to make a special statement. However, the Speaker was of the view that MP Karunanayake’s statement was not a privilege issue. Karunanayake said, if the Speaker doesn’t permit him to make the statement in Parliament he will release it to the media and websites. It is up to him to decide, the Speaker told the MP.