Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna questions need for ‘emergency’ when two other Acts available

  • AKD claims CAA and Essential Public Services Acts sufficient
  • Doubts motives of resorting to Public Security Ordinance

By Pamodi Waravita

The recent declaration of emergency regulations relating to the provision of essential foods by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in accordance with the powers vested in him by Section 2 of the Public Security Ordinance, was unnecessary as the stated ends could have been achieved through the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Act No. 9 of 2003 along with the Essential Public Services Act 61 of 1979, claimed Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader and National People’s Power (NPP) Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake yesterday (5).

Although the government has claimed that the emergency regulations were implemented on 30 August to enable it to ensure the uninterrupted supply of essential goods and services to the public, Dissanayake said that the gazette, released on 30 August and deemed 12 services as “essential”, is under the Essential Public Services Act, and not under emergency regulations.

“He does not need the power gained from the emergency regulations to do these things. Even the MRP for sugar and rice was established under the CAA Act. The recently conducted raids were also carried out under the CAA Act,” he added.

He stressed that the Government was misleading the public by claiming that emergency regulations are needed to make services and goods essential ones, and went on to question the true motives behind the implementation of the emergency regulations.

“This President has unlimited power. He first asked for two-thirds in the parliament to do his job. He then asked for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution to do his job. Now, he has implemented emergency regulations, giving him more unlimited power. Why is this necessary?”

Dissanayake claimed that the power granted by the emergency regulations being concentrated on the Executive President was dangerous, as it allows him to override both the Parliament and the Judiciary.

“These emergency regulations allow him to arrest or detain anyone, enter any place, and claim any property – other than land – without consulting the Judiciary. He can also establish another special Court system outside of our existing Judiciary,” warned Dissanayake.

Rajapaksa, on 30 August, declared emergency regulations on the provision of essential foods, with the aim of preventing market irregularities such as concealing stocks of essential food items including paddy, rice, and sugar and charging exorbitant prices for them, that could cause inconveniences to consumers.

The relevant gazette notification was issued by the President’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundara on 30 August, and subsequently Maj. Gen. M. S. P. Nivunhella was appointed as the new Commissioner General of Essential Services, who will oversee and co-ordinate the distribution of consumer goods essential for daily needs including paddy, rice, and sugar.

The President’s Media Division, in a media release, stated that this was done so that the authorised officers could act and recover the loans given by the State banks for the purchase of stocks from the borrowers. Said regulations will also enable the authorised officials to buy stocks of essential food items including paddy, rice, and sugar at reasonable prices based on Government-guaranteed prices or imported prices from the Customs to prevent market irregularities, which are causing inconveniences to consumers owing to the charge of high prices for such goods.

Both Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) MP and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesman President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran, and the Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB), stated last week that the declaration of the emergency regulations relating to the provision of essential foods by President Rajapaksa was an unwarranted act, and could lead to a state of repression in the country.