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mil MPs to determine fate of 13A implementation

Wednesday, 19 July 2023 00:00 –      – 64


 

  • TNA says President’s proposal to implement 13A sans police powers is not a meaningful effort
  • Maintains promises of consecutive Govts. was to implement 13A in full 
  • President says there was an outcry relating to police powers
  • Asks Tamil MPs to come to a consensus to implement 13A except for police powers

President Ranil Wickreme-singhe yesterday placed the responsibility for making further progress on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (13A) back in the hands of Sri Lanka’s Tamil MPs representing the North and East. He urged them to reach a consensus on its implementation with the exception of police powers during the meeting held yesterday in Parliament.

Wickremesinghe outlined his plans for devolution of powers stating that the 13A would be implemented with full powers, excluding police powers for the time being as specified under List 1 while incorporating designated functions from List 3 in the provincial council’s list.

The President urged the MPs to form a committee led by MPs Susil Premajayantha and Prasanna Ranatunge to hold discussions on the matter.

“You have to decide if you want to go ahead with this or not because we must draft the legislation,” he noted.

Sumanthiran highlighted that several deadlines promised by the President were missed and said they were unwilling to be part of a process that continues to be delayed indefinitely. “But we do not oppose any proposal that has been set out,” he added.

However, the President said he had not promised to implement the proposals relating to 13A by the dates mentioned by the MP and had only promised to deliver the proposals by 31 July. “The question is if you want to support it or not,” Wickremesinghe said.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK) party C.V. Vigneswaran said any effort to strengthen 13A must be expedited.

The devolution of powers, return of public land and the Anti-Terror law were also discussed during the meeting.

Concerning the Anti-Terrorism Act, Wickremesinghe said the Drafting Committee is set to review the EU proposals and emphasised that the Bill will be re-gazetted once all necessary amendments have been deliberated upon and appropriate measures have been taken.

President Wickremesinghe also informed the Tamil Parliamentarians from the North and East that the Anti-Corruption Bill is scheduled for Committee Stage amendments on Wednesday. Additionally, the President highlighted that proposed amendments to the Bill by the Supreme Court would also be taken into consideration.

MPs were informed that a draft law pertaining to the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) has been submitted to the Attorney General for a review of its constitutionality and will be presented to Parliament soon.

They were also made aware that an Interim Secretariat for the Truth Seeking Mechanism has been established, and a Director General has been appointed.

Significant attention was also dedicated to various development initiatives during the discussions, including the progress of Kankesanturai (KKS) Harbour, Vavuniya and Palaly Airports, as well as the potential establishment of a ferry service connecting the Northern Province of Sri Lanka with South India.

Furthermore, extensive deliberations took place on the ‘Water for the North Program’, with a particular focus on projects related to water management. Key areas of interest included the development of the Poonekery Tank, the ‘River for Jaffna’ initiative aimed at providing fresh water, and efforts to revitalise small tanks and enhance the water capacity of the Iranamadu Tank.

President Wickremesinghe also emphasised the importance of tourism development in the Northern Province, with a particular focus on Jaffna and Mannar. Furthermore, discussions were held regarding the promotion of coconut cultivation in Vanni and the aspiration to establish Jaffna as a thriving university town.

Regarding the Development Plan for the North, the President highlighted the aim to leverage the region’s renewable energy potential, specifically through the production of green hydrogen and ammonia. The President’s Media Unit said this initiative intends to attract investments and enhance the Port of Colombo. Notably, the plan designates Pooneryn New Town as the central hub for the renewable energy economy, facilitating concentrated growth in the sector.

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