COPF chairman appointment throws House into turmoil

Verbal abuse was liberally exchanged in Parliament, yesterday, during a heated debate on the appointment of UNP national list MP Wajira Abyewardena as the Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance.

Opposition MPs shouted slogans against the President and government, accusing them of manipulating the parliamentary process. The Chairman post of the COPF should be given to the Opposition, the protesting MPs claimed.

Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District SJB, MP Lakshman Kiriella, objected to Abeywardena’s appointment, saying it was against Standing Orders. “The Acting Chairman should also be from the Opposition, as per the standing orders. The Speaker should not allow this violation,” he said.

MP Nimal Lanza said Opposition Member Patali Champika Ranawaka was nominated as the acting Chairman but he declined to accept the post. “Any member can be appointed as the Acting Chairman if no one from the Opposition accepts the post,” he said.

Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said that MP Abeywardena has been appointed to the post on a temporary basis as the Committee elected a new president. The chairperson post of the COPF is not solely a right of the Opposition and any MP could be appointed to that post.

The heated argument erupted after Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced that SJB MP Mayantha Dissanayake officially handed over his resignation as the Chairman of the COPF.

Minister Nanayakkara said that Mayantha Dissanayake had resigned owing to an internal dispute over the COPF post and it is better for the SJB to let an MP be selected from another party.

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