By Dasun Edirisinghe
A referendum on a new Constitution was unnecessary, but it would come through the consent of all in Parliament, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka said yesterday.
Addressing the media at JHU headquarters in Battaramulla, Ranawaka said a referendum would not reflect the public opinion on the issue as the people will be influenced by other factors such as their political affiliations etc in casting their votes.
Citing Brexit referendum as an example, Minister Ranawaka said that also led to several unwanted problems including political and economic instability and divisions in the UK.
“If we conduct a referendum at this moment, Chief Minister of Northern Province C. V. Wigneswaran could use it for his separatist political campaign as well as former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his corrupt clan use it to boost their bankrupt campaign,” he said.
Ranawaka said Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and President J. R. Jayewardene had introduced new Constitutions by using their majorities in Parliament without referenda.
“This time around all parties in Parliament agreed for the need for a new Constitution and it will get the consent of all,” the minister said, noting that all parties had submitted their proposals.
Ranawaka said the JHU had left the Rajapaksa government due to corruption, but the present government, too, was moving in the same direction.
Citing the Central Bank bond scams as an example of corrupt practices under the present government, Ranawaka said it should not go for an election until those responsible for the bond scams were punished.
He said Rs. 14,000 million earned by the Perpetual Treasuries from the bond scams should be confiscated and they should be stopped from using the ill-got money on other investments.
Ranawaka said the new laws would also be introduced to prevent such scams in the future.
“If the government goes for an election disregarding these frauds people will decide decide its fate,” he said.
The JHU General Secretary also urged the government to expedite the investigations against those responsible for corruption under the Rajapaksa government.
Ranawaka called for setting up special courts or separate units in the existing court system to expedite corruption cases.
He also called for granting additional powers to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption to deal with abuse of state funds and properties.
Admitting that the Joint Opposition’s claim that present government took bigger loans than those obtained by the Rajapaksa government during the last nine years, Ranawaka said all those loans were short term and those were obtained to manage the financial crisis aggravated by the depreciation of the rupee.
Commenting on the Joint Opposition’s claim that the government had plans to give some Central Bank functions to the private sector as proposed by the budget, Ranawaka said that those were in the budget speech, but would not be implemented.
Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Karunaratne Paranavithana said they would use maximum state powers to punish those charged with corruption under the previous government.
Answering a query, Paranavithana said there was a proposal to hire vehicles for the parliamentarians, but it was not finalised or approved yet.