ECONOMYNEXT - Several expenditure heads were defeated at the end of a debate on Sri Lanka Megapolis and Home Affairs ministries on Thursday with most government members absent at vote, taking in a major embarrassment to the administration.
A number of expenditure heads were defeated with 38 voting against and only 24 government MPs present to vote.
"Two key ministries have been defeated. Where are the bigwigs of the government? Members eat breakfast and lunch at parliament but they are not present in parliament to vote", opposition member Mahindananda Aluthgamage crowed after defeating the vote, moving a motion for an adjournment debate on ongoing power cuts said.
"Power Minister Ravi Karunanayake is absent at the time of the vote. He is living within a hoo kiyana (within shouting distance) distance of parliament but he is also absent."
The government will have to bring a fresh motion tomorrow to pass the votes, political analysts said.
"You are just getting some temporary fun by defeating the votes," Mujibur Rahman, a government member said, trying to save face. "Try and beat the third reading of the budget if you can."
Sri Lanka is facing a power crisis because a planned 500 MegaWatt power plant was cancelled by President Maithripala Sirisena amid opposition from environmental and LNG lobbies and the administration delayed a contract for a stop-gap 300MW diesel plant for the past three years.
The contract was mired in controversy and corruption allegations and there was no quick resolution or re-tendering amid back-and-forth criticism that the cheapest bidder was not fully responsive and had a questionable record in delivering efficient plants, and the second bidder was too expensive.
(Colombo, March 29, 2019 - SB)