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Government withdraws controversial power Bill

The government has withdrawn the controversial Sri Lanka Electricity (Amendment) Bill which would have given the Minister in charge of Power and Energy sweeping powers that the Attorney General had said violates the Constitution.

The Bill proposed by Minister Ravi Karunanayake would have drastically reduced the powers of the watchdog Public Utilities Commission to supervise power purchases by the Ceylon Electricity Board.

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa opposing the Second Reading pointed out that the AG had raised objections to the Bill as it violates the Constitution.

“Many professionals have raised their objections on moving this Bill. The relevant Minister will be given an autonomous power to decide prices when purchasing power. This is a bad example. The government should withdraw this Bill and move it again after discussions.”

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya also said that the Sectorial Oversight Committee on Energy has also proposed some amendments to this Bill.

At this juncture, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that the government is yet to receive instructions from the AG’s Department regarding the matter.

“However, we received a letter dated 6 August that certain clauses of the Bill violate the Constitution. We were planning to withdraw the Bill before the Opposition Leader expressed his concerns. We do not want to do anything that violates the Constitution. Therefore, we withdraw the Bill,” he told the House.  

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