President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to deliver the Policy Statement of the coalition government at a ceremonial sitting when the second session of the Eighth Parliament commences on May 8. This statement however, will not be up for debate or a vote, contrary to unfounded claims.

Based on Article 33 of the 1978 Constitution, the President has the power to summon or prorogue Parliament at any time he prefers and would deliver a Statement of Government Policy at the commencement of a new session of parliament, a parliament official clarified.

According to constitutional experts, the Policy Statement will not be up for debate or vote, contrary to misleading claims in media reports. “This Constitution does not give room for a debate or vote on the matter, unlike the previous ones, where at the time the Policy Statement was read out by a Governor. In this instance, the President will preside over during the ceremonial sitting and would remain at the Speaker’s Chair.”

Unlike previous governments, here the President’s tenure of office is not dependent on the majority in parliament, hence it does not warrant a vote.

The President’s Policy Statement is said to be on the current policies of the incumbent government and the future course of action as a unified state.

When the Daily News questioned some politicians and experts about some news reports on the media about the President’s speech on May 8, they too endorsed the above view.

Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said there is no plan for a Throne speech in Parliament on May 8.

Amaraweera said the President’s speech will be a policy declaration which highlights the government’s policies and future course of action.

News reports which said there will be a call for a vote on the President’s speech Amaraweera explained that it was pure speculation and an attempt to mislead the public. Minister Lakshman Kiriella meanwhile said the government was not afraid of any vote and was confident of defeating any vote in parliament.

He said the recent vote on the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, the government had shown its might and had proven it cannot be defeated in parliament with a majority vote.

Minister A.H.M.Fowzie when inquired, also refuted claims that there will be a Throne Speech and said the President’s speech will only be a policy statement which outlines the future programme of the government. He said there was no provision to call for a vote on the President’s speech in parliament.

 Government Information Department Director General Sudarshana Gunawardana yesterday refuted news reports which appeared in several media stating that the Government will come to end once the crown speech made by the President is defeated on May 8.

The DG said the news is baseless, inaccurate and misleading the public.

According to these reports, the Opposition is planning to call for a vote after the speech. If the government is defeated at the vote, the Prime Minister should resign and a new Prime Minister and a new cabinet will be appointed. These media reports further said that Parliament can be dissolved prior to completion the four and a half years, if the vote is defeated.

The Information Department said there is a custom under the Westminster Parliament model to deliver a crown speech by the state leader when a new parliament session is begun. However, there is no provision for a vote, the DG’s release said.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said that it is futile to talk about this vote. It doesn’t arise at this moment. “If there is any vote it depends on the nature of speech. This is only a policy statement,”he said.

Senior journalist, attorney-at-law K.W. Janaranjana speaking on the new reports said it may be an attempt by those who brought the recent no confidence motion in parliament to prolong the political instability.

He said after defeating the NCM, the government had been able to reinstate political stability and added that news reports may be an attempt to create confusion and political instability.

He also said it seems media had not studied the procedures in parliament with regards to the President’s speech before publishing such news. He said in the present Constitution, there were no provisions to call for a vote on the President’s speech.

UNP parliamentarian Kavinda Jayawardene dismissed the news reports as a foolish attempt to hoodwink the people. He said that the Joint Opposition and the Rajapaksa’s smarting under the defeat at the NCM were now stooping to the level of planting false news to fulfill their ulterior motives.

“Even if there is any vote in Parliament, the government will comfortably defeat it, he added. 

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