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Join us in calling on His Excellency The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to introduce a Constitutional Amendment to limit the size of the Cabinet to 20, with no more than 20 Cabinet Ministers and no more than 20 other Ministers of Junior Ministerial rank.

You can sign the petition by clicking here.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/his-excellency-mahinda-rajapaksa-the-president-of-sri-lanka-introduce-constitutional-amendment-limiting-cabinet-to-20-cabinet-ministers

Short link – http://chn.ge/YbSBgY

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I promised to return to the subject, since I did not spend much time on discussing Committees of Parliament. These should be extremely important, since they should be the principal forums in which Parliament discharges its two vital responsibilities, namely legislation and financial oversight.

In most Parliaments, important business is conducted through Committees, with plenary sessions reserved for the cut and thrust of debate, for discussion of broad policy issues, and for questions to keep government on its toes. The Sri Lankan Parliament does still have lively debates and discussions, though the function of questions has collapsed, since Ministers now postpone answers to difficult questions, and there are no sanctions against them when this happens. We tried, when the Committee to amend Standing Orders was sitting, to introduce a provision whereby the Speaker reports to the Head of the Executive any Ministers who are in dereliction of their duties. Unfortunately that Committee went the way of all Parliamentary Committees, into virtual oblivion.

Other Committees, I should note, do sit, though hardly any Ministers conduct meetings on a monthly basis as is expected. This would be difficult, given the number of Committees there are. I can also understand Ministers thinking these meetings not very useful, since they are largely concerned with the problems of individual Members of Parliament, who can also bring those problems up direct with the Minister or the Secretary, instead of using up time meant for general discussions. As I have suggested, Ministers should be required to set aside a time each week for Members to approach them about matters concerning their own interests, so the time of the Consultative Committee could be spent on general issues and policy matters. But since that rarely happens now, I can understand why Members who do not have individual issues to bring up do not attend, since it must be tedious for them to sit through the individual problems of others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2013
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