During the All-Party Conference at the Presidential Secretariat today (26), President Ranil Wickremesinghe stressed the significance of discussing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution with all parties, as it is a matter that affects the entire country. He highlighted that a decision on this matter should involve input from all relevant parties.
The conference was organized to update the Parliament’s party leaders on the National Reconciliation Program and the North-East Development Plan.
President Wickremesinghe recalled that neither he nor the previous seven Executive Presidents had the authority to pass new laws to address existing problems; that power rested solely with the Parliament. He asserted that he was bringing forth relevant proposals for the betterment of the country, but the responsibility of implementing them lay with all the representatives in the Parliament, as he alone couldn’t achieve it with his single vote.
The President noted that seven out of the nine provincial councils were located in areas with a majority of Sinhalese. If the provincial council system were to be maintained, he emphasized the need to address the shortcomings that had already been experienced. He suggested granting provincial councils powers over subjects currently under the central government, including grassroots activities like agriculture and tourism.
According to President Wickremesinghe, the central government should formulate policies for the country, while provincial councils should provide the necessary facilities for the successful implementation of development activities in all fields. Collaboration between all parties and levels of government was crucial for progress and development.
In addition, President Ranil Wickremesinghe called for collective discussions among all parties to decide on granting police powers to the Provincial Councils as outlined in the 13th Amendment of the Constitution.
Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe proposed arrangements that would allow members of the Provincial Councils to concurrently hold positions and be appointed as Members of Parliament, while members of Parliament could also serve as members of the Provincial Councils.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, Former President Maithripala Sirisena, Tamil National Alliance Leader and Member of Parliament R. Samppanthan, M. A. Sumanthiran, General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Member of Parliament Sagara Kariyawasam, as well as other Members of Parliament such as Dallas Alahapperuma, Wimal Weerawansa, Gevidu Kumaratunga, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Udaya Gammanpila, Sarath Weerasekera, Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thero, Weerasumana Weerasinghe, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, C.V. Vigneswaran, and Lakshman Kiriella, participated and expressed their views during the event. Numerous party leaders and representatives from various parties were also present at the occasion.
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