Focus on policies to reduce parliamentary absenteeism - TISL | Sunday Observer

Focus on policies to reduce parliamentary absenteeism - TISL

Low attendance in parliament last week during the vote to extend the Emergency Regulations were widely criticised some caliming that it shows lack of interenst by policy makers about something as umportant as extending the Emergency.

Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) says lack of attendance in Parliament reflects the sad situation and that if members could focus on polices, the number of attendees could increase significanly. The desire of most people is for Parliamentarians is to extend their patronage as policy makers,” TISL Executive Director Asoka Obeyesekere told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

During the Friday’s (May 24) vote on Emergency, only 30 Parliamentarians were present in Parliament out of a total of 225 MPs.After the April 21 Easter Sunday attacks, the Parliament was convened on April 23, 24, May 7, 8 and 10 to discuss immediate steps to be taken on national security and debate on the extension of Emergency. Otherwise, according to the normal Parliament calendar, it had to be convened on May 7. The absence of MPs at Parliamentary sessions is reported to be 39 on April 23, 49 on April 24, 48 on May 7, 65 on May 8 and 96 on May 10.Asked whether in an important issue such as extension of Emergency when out of 225 MPs only 20 were present to vote what has really gone wrong, Obeyesekere said he wouldn’t want to comment on the subject matter because he doesn’t know which instrument is used to extend the Emergency.

Obeyesekere further said Standing Orders function to ensure that the responsibilities of Parliamentarians should be looked at in a broader scope of how parliamentary practice has to be reformed.

Meanwhile, the authoritative sources said normally Parliament proceedings are conducted only on eight days per month. In addition, Parliamentarians should attend Parliament during the Budget debate and some emergency situations. The MPs are paid Rs.2,500 allowance a day for attendance in Parliament. If a MP attends a Parliamentary Select Committee meeting, he is paid Rs.2,500 allowance. In addition, each MP is entitled to a Rs.10,000 monthly office allowance, fuel allowance depending on the area of travelling, entertainment allowance, driver’s allowance, telephone and postal allowances. MPs are also entitled to a series of benefits such as entertainment, medical, library and physical fitness facilities.