Parliament’s inability to find time to debate all the 50 different ministries has resulted in both the Government and Opposition agreeing to have a Standing Committee to debate 21 of them, and only the balance taken up during the Budget debate.
The plethora of ministries will result in parallel debates one within the Standing Committee and the other in the House during the Committee stage vote on these ministries. Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardena said the unprecedented decision had been reached by consensus between the Government and the opposition.
Some ministries considered ‘less important’ are: Environment and Natural Resources (Patali Champika Ranawaka), National Heritage (Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena), Religious Affairs and Moral Upliftment (Pandu Bandaranaike), Rural Industries and Self Employment Promotion (S.B. Navinne), Constitutional Affairs and National Integration (DEW Gunasekera), Science and Technology (Tissa Vitharana), Posts and Telecommunication (Mahinda Wijesekare), Livestock Development (R.M.C.B. Ratnayake), Community Development (P. Chandrasekaran), Youth Empowerment and Socio Economic Development (Arumugam Thondaman), Indigenous Medicine (Tissa Karaliyedde), Public Estate Management and Development (Milroy S. Fernando), Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services (Rishard Bathiudeen) and Supplementary Crops Development (Dharamadasa Banda).
The Government will present its Budget in Parliament on November 6 while the debate on the second reading will continue from November 7 to 15. The committee stage will start on November 17 and will continue till December 8 with sittings on two Saturdays also. According to Parliament Standing Orders, not more than 22 days can be allocated for the committee stage of the Appropriation Bill even if the number of ministries in existence is so high, as is the case now.