When the vote was taken up on the Motion after a two-day debate yesterday evening, 61 Parliamentarians voted in favour of the motion including the majority of the SJB, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the National People’s Power (NPP) and the United National Party (UNP).
Accordingly, 152 MPs voted against the motion with all constituent parties of the Government casting their votes to defeat the motion. Therefore, the Motion presented against Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila over several matters including the recent fuel price hike was defeated by 91 votes.
The SJB, TNA and the NPP voted in support of the motion. However, some SJB Members who supported the Government during the vote on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution had also voted against the NCM yesterday. Several Members of Parliament representing the SJB signed a 10-point NCM against Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila on June 16, over the recent increase in fuel prices.
The NCM against Minister Gammanpila was handed over to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on June 22.
The NCM alleged that the Energy Minister had sanctioned the increase of fuel prices without the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers, in violation of the Constitution.
The Motion also cites a statement issued by MP Sagara Kariyawasam, General Secretary of the ruling party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) regarding the fuel price hike. It was taken up for debate on Monday and yesterday, followed by a vote on the motion at 5.30 p.m. yesterday evening.
When the case of NCM was tabled in Parliament on Monday, former PM and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed an amendment that the NCM tabled by the SJB against Minister Udaya Gammanpila be amended as a NCM against the entire Government.
However, the Speaker rejected the amendment which sought to convert a NCM against a Minister into a NCM against the Cabinet of Ministers claiming that it is certainly not within the scope of the original Motion and nor is it relevant to the original motion. A number of Members from all parties made speeches regarding the NCM during the extensive two-day debate.Parliament was subsequently adjourned until August 03, 2021.
NCM, a kid’s document without any basis – Minister Gammanpila
The No Confidence Motion initiated by the Opposition does not contain any allegations specifically against him, said Minister Udaya Gammanpila, thanking the Opposition for giving him far greater importance than their own leader.
“The Opposition had asked for a three day debate whereas even when a NCM was brought against their own leader it was a mere one day debate. Hence, they have proved that I am a far more important figure than their own leader.”
He said that the moment he saw the NCM, he termed it as a kid’s document as there was nothing specifically against him. Analysing each allegation, he said, “The first allegation is that the fuel price was increased without the approval of the Cabinet. According to the Petroleum Corporation Act of 1961 No 28, paragraph 66, it states that the fuel prices could be increased with the consent of the Finance Minister. The Cabinet had not intervened at any point in history to revise the fuel prices. Even during the tenure the Opposition was in power, this did not happen. So it is ironic that those who can’t even understand that much are seeking to run the country,” he riled.
Referring to the second allegation he said that the management of the State policy does not lie with the Energy Minister but it lies with the Cabinet of ministers. He said it seems doubtful if there is even a single MP in the Opposition SJB benches who had fully read and understood the Constitution.
On the issue of his failure to notify parliament regarding how much profit the CPC and the government had made at the time the oil prices had dropped in the World Market, Gammanpila told the 43 MPs who had signed the NCM, “Government’s don’t get profits, they only make income. But, the CPC can make profits. It is a bunch of Montessori babies who have formulated this NCM. The Central Bank 2020 report tabled in Parliament, clearly indicates how much the government had earned and how much profits or losses the CPC had made. This NCM clearly shows that not a single MP from the SJB has even read the Central Bank report.” He said that some chairman had questioned as to why we purchase fuel from Singapore without getting it directly from the source. “That is where the market exchanges. Singapore is the oil hub of Asia, which converts petroleum into various oils and sells them. They make up 25% of the oil trade. It is a popular lie that we buy oil from there. We call for bids from tenders to see how much it costs to bring a metric ton to the Port of Colombo. Chinese companies, Middle Eastern companies, Singaporean companies can call for bids in any country in the world,” he said, challenging the opposition to prove their allegations regarding an alleged voice recording.