By Ajith Alahakoon and Kushan Subasinghe
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had presented the ‘Super Ministry’ draft bill yesterday under a different title as Sri Lanka Sustainable Development bill, the Joint Opposition said.
As soon as the bill was presented Leader of the House, Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella said it would be taken up for debate on a future date and adjourned sittings.
Thereafter, several MPs of the Joint Opposition got up, protesting against the bill and the way the government had presented it. The Leader of the House however said: “Now the bill has been presented and the House has been adjourned and there is no point in shouting.”
A JO MP, contacted for comment, said what had been presented was the Super Ministry bill and the JO would go all out to defeat it.
The preamble of the bill says that it aims to provide for the development and implementation of a national policy and strategy on sustainable development in Sri Lanka; for the setting up of a Sustainable Development Council and for matters connected to therewith or incidental thereto.
The Council shall consist of Secretary to the Ministry of the minister assigned the subject of Sustainable Development, Secretary to the Ministry of the Minister assigned the subject of National planning or his nominee, the secretary to the Ministry of Environment or his nominee, eight other members appointed by the President comprising two members appointed by him on his own volition, one member nominated by the Prime Minister, two members nominated by the Minister assigned the subject of Sustainable Development and three members out of the nine persons nominated by the Provincial Councils. The chairman of the council shall be appointed by the President from among its members.
The Council is to formulate National Policy and Strategy on sustainable development in consultation with the concurrence of all relevant parties and nine provincial councils and place before the Cabinet of Ministers for approval.
The National Policy and Strategy on sustainable development shall be for a period of 15 years.
The Minister shall lay such national policy and strategy on sustainable development before Parliament for approval.
“It shall be the duty of every ministry, department, provincial council, provincial ministry and department and any local authority to comply with the national policy and strategy on sustainable development.
“Every ministry, department, provincial council, provincial ministry and department and any local authority shall cause an environmental and social audit to be done on the new development projects and ensure the environmental and social security on the new development projects.”
The Minister given the subject of sustainable development will have powers to make regulations and to issue guidelines to the development project approving agencies namely ministries, departments, provincial councils, provincial ministries and departments and local authorities and all other government and provincial council agencies.
The concept sustainable development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.