SLPP yet to receive draft 21A Bill
- Keheliya says details yet to be discussed
Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) MP and Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said yesterday (22) that the SLPP is yet to receive the draft of the 21st Amendment Bill, and that details will have to be discussed prior to making a decision on the vote.
“The 21st Amendment has been discussed at the parliamentary group meeting, and the vote will be a collective decision. In principle, we have agreed that the 20th Amendment needs to be amended – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa himself has agreed. Some say the 19th Amendment should be brought back, some say bring the 21st Amendment as an improved 19th Amendment. But details have not been discussed, and even the draft has not been distributed yet to make a decision,” Rambukwella said, responding to a question by The Morning on whether the SLPP will vote for the 21st Amendment if there is a clause stating that dual citizens cannot enter Parliament.
The draft of the 21st Amendment Bill is set to be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers today (23). Reportedly, the Bill has reinstated the provisions of the 19th Amendment, whilst adding a number of other provisions, such as those related to an Audit Services Commission, Procurement Commission, and parliamentary oversight during the appointment of the Governor to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL). The 21st Amendment Bill has been drafted by a committee led by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and newly appointed Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa.
The 20th Amendment was passed with a two-thirds majority in Parliament in 2020, repealing the progress made by the 19th Amendment in its attempts to curtail the powers of the Executive Presidency. Controversially, the 20th Amendment also allowed dual citizens to enter Parliament and hold public office, which paved the way for the entry of former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa into Parliament in 2021. The 21st Amendment is expected to repeal this clause.
Former Finance Minister Rajapaksa is also Founder and National Organiser of the SLPP, which still holds a majority in Parliament.