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What we have now is far worse: it is rule by executive dictats – M.A. Sumanthiran

“Rule of law, it has been said is the bedrock of democracy. Even rule by law is undesirable. But what we have now is far worse: it is rule by executive dictats! That is what we have today.” 

M. A. Sumanthiran MP, speaking on the Appropriation Bill 2020 in Parliament today, exposed the government’s flagrant violation of the law across a range of matters.  

He alleged that the Appropriation Bill 2020 is an attempt to cover up illegal activities that the government has carried out in respect of public finances. Parliamentary resolutions can only be used to draw from the consolidated funds for specific public services expenditures such as the paying of government servant salaries. The constitution does not permit the levying of taxes or government borrowing under this arrangement. Similarly, the constitution does not permit spending on developmental activities under parliamentary resolutions or presidential authorisation. For such necessities, an appropriation act must be passed in advance. 

Sumanthiran pointed out that the government having failed to do so in advance is now trying to retrospectively cover up its illegal conduct through sneaking in an appropriation bill at the tail end of the year. He faulted the government for stubbornly refusing to reconvene Parliament earlier in the year which would have helped avoid violating the law. 

He described the Supreme Court’s decision to not grant leave to proceed on the parliament dissolution case as ‘strange’. “Ordinarily, the decision whether or not to grant leave to proceed is arrived within the first 10 minutes. But on this occassion the court heard the case for 10 days before dismissing the case without assigning reason,” he highlighted. 

In closing, the parliamentarian from Jaffna criticised government’s shift away from the rule of law to ‘rule by decree’ as fundamentally undemocratic. He stated that there is no legal basis for the Army Commander’s recent announcement prohibiting travel out of the Western Province until November 15 and for the so-called ‘quarantine curfew’. As an illustrative example of the general lawlessness pervading the country, Sumanthiran referred to the convicted criminal Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan being allowed to chair District Coordinating Committee meetings and attend office opening functions over the past two days in Batticaloa.

Summary of the Speech Made by Hon. Sumanthiran in Parliament (12.11.2020)

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