Thursday, November 5, 2009

Senior UNP MP Choksy says Mahinda Rajapaksa has wiped out terrorism and restored economic progress using Executive Presidency

Statement by Hon. K.N. Choksy, PC, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Finance and Former Minister of Constitutional and State Affairs.

The normal procedure is for the government to present to Parliament at the end of each year its financial proposals for the whole of the next calendar year. This is in the form of the Budget.

However, what happens if the term of office of the current Parliament terminates prior to the next calendar year? We are in such a situation since the term of office of the current Parliament terminates in April 2010.

Sri Lankais a democratic nation. The decision must be a democratic one. To my mind, both as a citizen and a former Finance Minister, it would be inappropriate to present a Budget and bind, possibly, a new government for the greater part of next year.

Looked at from this point of view, a Vote on Account up to the end of the current Parliament is democratic and fair, leaving it open to the Government elected at the next General Election to formulate its own financial programme of revenue raising, financial investment and economic development. However, the financial content of the present Vote on Account is open to scrutiny by Parliament.

The first thirty years of independence showed no real progress on the political, economic and social fronts. The Executive Presidency established in 1978 by President Jayewardene gave the nation the required transfusion to develop all these aspects. President Jayewardene established the open market economy, and the Board of Investment which attracted foreign private investment and developed the export market. President Premadasa used it for rural housing development and the 200 garment factories scheme. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has benefitted the nation by wiping out terrorism and restoring economic progress. There is one further important national task left to him, which I am confident he can achieve. That is to establish ethnic understanding and amity between the major communities.

Using his leadership in national issues, he should be able to achieve this directly by means of a political settlement with the Tamil Parties in Parliament, and thereafter present the outcome for Parliamentary acceptance. Then the Executive Presidency would have proved its full worth.

The institution should not be abolished in a hurry. The powers attached to the Office could be reconsidered and modified where necessary. But the Office itself should be continued. The Opposition in Parliament, I am confident, will look at the issue in this perspective, and make a well considered decision. The issue is of vital importance to the nation.

Signed: K.N. Choksy
Dated 5.11.2009

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