In Parliament
Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP In the Budget Debate - November 27th 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of the 2014 Budget which, as in previous years, has a number of innovative ideas. These, if implemented coherently, will do much to alleviate poverty and ensure the equity which this government has striven to promote. It is a remarkable achievement that, despite the difficulties of the last few years, we have continued to have what the Sunday Times in England described as 'a rate of economic growth that would inflame the loins of George Osborne' – which I believe is meant to suggest jealousy rather than sexual excess. This was in a hard hitting attack on David Cameron's arrogant behavior that ended up suggesting he should apologize.


For this growth to continue however we need to ensure that we have clear cut policies to attract investment, as well as better human resource development policies, with mechanisms to monitor performance. These, as well as systems of grass roots consultation, as laid down in the Mahinda Chintanaya, are essential if growth is to be sustainable and equitable.

 

Such consultation has contributed to the formulation of the budget, as is clear from the account of agrarian development. I have myself drawn attention to the problems identified by farming communities, Muslim and Sinhala and Tamil, following discussions at Divisional Secretariat level, and their urgent need for a comprehensive water policy as well as protection from wild animals. I am happy government is responding so readily, but as noted it is important to ensure that those in need are kept informed of measures that will be taken, together with a time frame. It is also important, as the budget notes, to deal swiftly with the kidney disease that has taken such a toll in rural communities, and I hope the large allocation for water purification plans will be used swiftly and sensibly. I should note that these are needed in other Provinces too, as I found in the Western Divisions of the Trincomalee District.

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Parliamentary Debate on the Chief Justice – 11 January 2013 PDF Print E-mail

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Rajiva Wijesinha, MP

(This was not delivered as there wouldn't be time for me to speak, but this is what I would have said).

 

Both this resolution, Mr Speaker, and the manner in which it has been pursued, make very clear the need for radical reform. We have long known that we have an illogical Constitution that confuses all sorts of political principles. Sadly we have not taken seriously the crying need to change it wholesale, not simply engage in piecemeal reforms.


Nowhere is inconsistency more obvious than in the relations between the three traditional branches of government. Underlying this inconsistency is a failure to ensure accountability, despite the claim that power belongs in all instances to the people. The Executive is accountable in that it submits itself to democratic elections every few years, but the period of six years that is prescribed, and the provision, based on Westminster norms, of having an early election, make this accountability less than perfect. And the system of elections we have for the Legislature makes a nonsense of accountability, since that requires a closer relationship between constituencies and their representatives than the preferential vote system makes possible.

 

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