By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema
A key figure in government, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa says that the 18th Amendment was introduced with the aim of exercising sovereignty, by removing all the barriers to it. “The people should enjoy the sovereignty which is very clearly mentioned in Article 4,” he told Parliament last week.
“The security of the country and the executive powers of the people are expected to be fulfilled through the presidency,” he added.
Rajapaksa noted that the President would be attending Parliament at least once in three months which makes the post closer to the members in Parliament.
Referring to the 17th Amendment he said, “Through these amendments a Parliamentary Council is proposed. This responsibility is given to Parliament. So how can anybody say that this strengthens the Presidency? It is from the Parliament members that we select representatives for the Council. It consists of Opposition and Government members. Equality is created through it. Even the right to give nominations for any MP is facilitated. This right was not there in the 17th Amendment.”
He added that the Commissions are made answerable to Parliament.
According to Rajapaksa, the common candidate at the previous Presidential Election promised to remove the powers of the post of presidency and create an Executive PM post, but was rejected by the people. “People wanted to continue the presidency while making it answerable to Parliament. This expectation is fulfilled by the 18th Amendment,” he said.
Power and Energy Minister Champika Ranawaka said, “We are a far-sighted party. We are happy that Sri Lanka is stepping towards a new stage in politics, with the 18th Amendment.”