No ‘throne speech’ under 1978 Constitution, says Govt | Sunday Observer

No ‘throne speech’ under 1978 Constitution, says Govt

Categorically refuting some misleading media speculations, the Government lawmakers stressed the Government’s Policy Statement to be made by President Maithripala Sirisena in Parliament on May 8 will not be taken up for debate or vote and added that the President will preside over the ceremonial sitting to make a Policy Statement which would highlight the policies and future course of action of the National Unity Government.

State Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera told the Sunday Observer that according to the 1978 Constitution, there is no Throne Speech in Parliament. The Throne Speech concept was there under the old Soulbury Constitution until the promulgation of the first Republican Constitution of 1972. Under the present Constitution, there is no provision to call for a vote on the President’s Policy Statement. The President as the Head of the Government can either deliver his speech from the Speaker’s chair or the normal seat reserved for him in Parliament.

State Minister Perera said if there is any necessity, there can be a debate on the President’s Policy Statement, but no vote. It is almost like an Adjournment debate. If the Opposition asks for a debate, the Government would definitely give them a debate on the same day or thereafter. There is no question of debating it as the Parliament is the highest forum in the country. We are also of the view that the President’s Policy Statement should be debated in Parliament in a proper manner paving the way for all the political parties to air their views said he.

The parliamentary sources said the inaugural sitting of the second session of the eighth Parliament is scheduled to commence on May 8 at 2.15 pm. An informal Party Leaders’ meeting has been convened by the Speaker for May 2 as the Committee on Parliamentary Business was dissolved following prorogation of Parliament and will discuss arrangements for the inaugural ceremony of Parliament on May 8 and the Parliamentary business thereafter. The relevant Gazette notification to reconvene the Parliament has already been issued by the President.

Commenting on some misleading media reports, the Government lawmakers said that the President’s Policy Statement will not be taken up for debate or vote. The present Constitution does not provide room for a debate or vote on the matter.

Meanwhile there were news reports which said that there will be a call for a vote on the President’s speech. However, UPFA General Secretary and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that it was pure speculation and an attempt to mislead the public. A group of backbenchers in the Government also said even if there is any vote in Parliament, the Government would comfortably defeat it. They said during the recent vote on the No Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister; the Government clearly showed that it cannot be defeated in Parliament.