No plans for a referendum to extend Parliament – Minister

* Next three years will see fulfillment of Manifesto
* New Constitution will be presented in House this year

Foreign Affairs Minister Professor G. L. Peiris said that no discussion has been held within the Government to extend the term of Parliament or the President.

MP Diana Gamage on Friday in Parliament proposed that Parliament should pass a Resolution to extend the current term of Parliament and the President by another two years to cover up for the time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to the media in Kandy after visiting Asgiriya Chapter Chief Prelate Most Venerable Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera on Saturday, Prof. Peiris dismissed the claims of such a term extension by way of a Parliamentary Resolution.

“Since we have another three years left of the people’s mandate we received, it is the Government’s goal to transform the ‘Saubhagyaye Dekma’ policy into reality within that period. We dedicate ourselves to the maximum for that”, he said.

He said that the Government has no intention of holding a referendum at all.

“Everyone accepts the fact that the Government has another three years of its tenure remaining. We have the strength of a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The President clearly made a pledge to the country that he will bring in a new Constitution. This is stated in the “Saubhagyaye Dekma” manifesto. A Committee of Experts led by President’s Counsel Romesh De Silva has been appointed. Their role is to submit proposals for a completely new Constitution. Priority will be given to changing the electoral system. A Parliamentary Select Committee has been set up under the chairmanship of Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

“People expect a change in the electoral system which has become a curse to the country. Large scale corruption is taking place in the current electoral system. If a referendum is held regarding this matter, 90 per cent of the people will vote to change the current electoral system. Once the proposals of the Experts Committee for a new Constitution are made, they will be referred to a Parliamentary Committee. It will determine the areas that should be amended or not. They are political decisions. The intervention of the Parliament will take place only after the proposals are presented. The Government is taking measures with determination to implement the relevant proposals this year,” he added.

“We have the strength of Two Thirds of the parliament. Despite having three more seats, some Governments ruled for six years. The ones who receive the credit when the Government makes popular decisions, are not involved in decisions that are not popular. This particular action can be considered wrong. Any Government has to make unpopular decisions. If those who are with the Government state that they cannot get involved in such decisions, a Government cannot continue to function. All those who represent the Government are collectively bound by the decisions taken by the Government. That is the basic principle of Government,” he commented.

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