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TNA unveils its constitutional proposals

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The TNA has called upon the Experts Committee to Draft a new Constitution to adhere to the following principles:

1. Nature of the State:

(1) Sri Lanka (Ceylon) shall be recognised as a free, sovereign, independent and united Republic comprising the institutions of the Centre and of the Regions, which shall exercise powers of governance as laid down in the Constitution.

(2) One of the Regions shall be for the territory predominantly occupied by the Tamil-speaking peoples in the North-East.

 

2. Fundamental Rights:

The Constitution shall include a comprehensive list of fundamental rights and freedoms, founded on human dignity and personal autonomy, and reflecting the full gamut of Sri Lanka’s international human rights obligations.

 

3. Language:

(1) The Constitution shall recognise Sinhala, Tamil, and English as the official languages throughout Sri Lanka, and the languages of administration in the entire island.

(2) Citizens should have a right to interact with the State, whether in person or in correspondence, in the language of their choice.

(3) The Constitution should specify that official documents, notices or directives which communicate, imply or impose a penalty or fine or punishment have no force or effect in law in the event they are issued in violation of language rights.

 

4. The Executive:

(1)The Constitution shall provide for a government with a ceremonial President who is accountable to Parliament, and who acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister shall be the head of the cabinet of ministers.

(2

)The cabinet of ministers, the state ministers, and the deputy ministers, shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister from amongst members of Parliament. Assignment of subjects and functions shall be within the powers of the Prime Minister, and these powers may be exercised by the Prime Minister at any time.

 

5. The Legislature:

(1) The Constitution shall provide for a bicameral legislature with a chamber comprising members directly elected by the people, and a second chamber comprising representatives of the Regions.

(2) Legislation shall be passed upon passage of a Bill by simple majority through both chambers, except in the case of amendments to the Constitution, in which case, the Bill shall be passed with a two-thirds majority in both chambers. And in the case of amendments affecting devolution to the Regions, it shall have an additional requirement of assent by every one of the delegations from the Regions to the second chamber.

 

6. Sharing of Powers of Governance:

(1) There shall be Regional Councils for every Region, as defined in a schedule to the Constitution.

(2) There shall be a Governor for each Region, who shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Minister of the relevant Regional Council, and such advice shall only be given with the approval of the Regional Council.

(3) The Governor shall, except as provided in the Constitution, act on the advice of the Chief Minister and the cabinet of ministers of the Regional Council.

(4) Regional Councils shall have legislative power over subjects specified in a schedule to the Constitution. The statutes duly enacted by a Regional Council shall prevail over all previous legislation on the same subject with respect to the relevant region.

(5) Suitable time-bound arrangements shall be made with regard to Governor’s assent to statutes to avoid delay.

(6) National policy on a devolved subject defeats the object of devolution. Therefore, all Regions must be consulted and where all Regions agree, national policy must be confined to framework legislation within which Regions can exercise fully legislative and executive power pertaining to the devolved subject. Framework legislation shall not curtail devolved power.

(7) The Central Legislature may make laws with respect to subjects devolved to the Regional Councils, provided all Regional Councils vote to approve the said Bill. Where a Regional Council does not so approve, the Act, if passed, shall not have force or effect within the said Region.

(8) Devolved power cannot be overridden or taken back without the consent of the Region concerned. In the case of Constitutional amendments affecting devolution, it should have the approval of every regional delegation from the Regions in addition to two third majority votes in both Houses.

(9) Assignment of subjects and functions shall be based on the principle of maximum possible devolution. All subjects other than such subjects as must necessarily be with the Central Government, such as national security, national defence, armed forces, foreign affairs, and national economic affairs, must be devolved.

(10) Some of the important subjects and functions to be devolved shall include (but not be limited to):

 

a. land;

b. law and order;

c. education including tertiary education;

d. health;

e. housing and construction;

f. agriculture and agrarian services;

g. irrigation;

h. fisheries;

i. animal husbandry and livestock development;

j. resettlement and rehabilitation;

k. local government;

1. regional public service;

m. regional police service;

n. religious and cultural affairs;

p. all other socioeconomic and cultural matters;

o. cooperatives and cooperative banks;

q. industries; and

r. taxation, central grants, international and domestic loans and grants, and foreign direct investment.

(11) All appointments to the regional public service and regional police service, other than the Chief Secretary and other secretaries to regional ministries, shall be made by the Regional Public Service Commission and the Regional Police Commission, as the case may be, which shall be answerable and responsible to the Chief Minister and to the cabinet of ministers of the relevant Region.

(12) The Chief Secretary shall be appointed by the President with the concurrence of the Chief Minister of the Region, and shall be removable by the President on the advice of the Chief Minister. Secretaries to regional ministries shall be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Chief Minister and the cabinet of ministers of the relevant Region, and shall be removable on their advice.

(13) There shall be adequate provision made in the Constitution for the protection of the minority communities in every Region.

 

7. The Judiciary:

(1) The Constitution shall provide fora Constitutional Court, comprising members appointed by the Constitutional Council, to hear and determine the constitutionality of legislation made by the Central Legislature and statutes made by Regional Councils. Such power may be exercised prior to the enactment of such law or statute, or after enactment, whether it arises in the course of legal proceedings or by the direct institution of proceedings.

(2) In respect of matters relating to the interpretation of the Constitution, the decisions of the Constitutional Court shall be final.

(3) Jurisdiction with respect to fundamental rights applications shall be exercised by the Provincial High Courts.

 

8. Public Security:

(1) The Constitution shall provide that the declaration of a state of emergency shall be made by the President, on the advice of the Prime Minister, or on the advice of the Governor of the Region with the concurrence of the Chief Minister of Region. Such a state of emergency shall only be declared when there are reasonable grounds to apprehend the existence of a clear and present danger to public security, preservation of public order (including preservation of public order consequent to natural disasters and epidemics) or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the community in the country or Region. A state of emergency can be declared only with respect to the territory where such a clear and present danger prevails.

(2) The declaration of emergency shall state the basis on which such a state of emergency was declared, and shall be limited in time.

(3) The Declaration of Emergency shall, be subject to parliamentary approval or the relevant Regional Council’s approval, as the case may be, and be subject to judicial review by the Constitutional Court. If such approval is not granted, or where the Constitutional Court so holds, such Declaration of Emergency shall stand rescinded.

 

9. Land:

(1) Land shall be a devolved subject. All state land used by the Central Government for a subject in the Central List shall be continued to be used by the Central Government. Rights acquired by citizens in state land shall be preserved. All other state land shall vest in the Region concerned, and can be used by the Region in terms of its devolved powers over land.

(2) Alienation of state land shall be done on the basis of the principles enunciated in the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact and Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact.

(3) Regions shall have powers of land acquisition and requisition.

 

10. Pollce:

(1) Law and order shall be a devolved subject.

(2) There shall be a National Police Force, and Regional Police Forces for each Region.

(3) Offences that are reserved to be dealt with by the National Police shall be listed in a schedule to the Constitution. All other offences shall be within the purview of the Regional Police.

(4) The head of the Regional Police shall be the Regional Police Commissioner, who shall he appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister of the Region, There shall be a Regional Police Commission to be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister and the leader of the opposition of the relevant Regional Council. Appointment and disciplinary control of Regional Police personnel shall be under the Regional Police Commission. The Regional Police Commissioner shall be answerable and responsible to the Regional Minister, entrusted with the subject of law and order.

 

Signed

– R. Sampanthan MP Leader, Tamil National Alliance and Parliamentary Croup Leader of ITAK

– Sgd. Mavai S. Senathirajah – Leader. ITAK and co-leader, TNA

-Sgd. Selvam Adaikalanathan, MP – Leader. TELO and co-leader, TNA

– Sgd. D Sithadthan, MP – Leader, PLOTE and co-leader. TNA



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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