The Active Responsibility Management Bill was passed with a majority of 51 votes in Parliament yesterday.The Bill which was presented by National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Harsha de Silva on behalf of Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, under the title Active Liability Management Bill, was later amended as the Active Responsibility Management Bill and later passed.
The Bill was passed with 53 votes in favour, while 2 voted against. JVP MPs Bimal Rathnayake and Sunil Handunnetti voted against. JO members left the House in protest, while TNA members were not present
As the debt burden at present was the most serious challenge facing the country, the government had to pay around Rs. Four Billion as repayments, National Policy and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said, initiating the Debate on the Active Liability Management Bill in Parliament yesterday.
“This Bill is being presented in order to better manage the country’s debts. Today the interest on debts have increased from 20 percent to 80 percent. All loans obtained are not the same. Some of these loans are without any interest. Obtaining commercial loans commenced in 2006 – 2007. These loans differ in comparison to the previously obtained loans. It was then that the international sovereign bonds were introduced. However, these have to be paid in a short term, or bullet payment, unlike the previous long term repayment. Hence, this is a big challenge, but no government has been without paying these loans, as defaulting on payments would have severe international implications,” he noted.
However, why do we need this Bill? “Petitioners went to the Supreme Court against this Bill. Our government through the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, brought in a clause that no one could bring in, without proper procedures being followed. Previously, even the 18th Amendment was brought as a sudden Bill, leaving no room for anyone to even go to Court against it. Yet, under the Good Governance regime, we have safeguarded the rights of everyone to go to the Supreme Court and present their views. Based on that, this group went to Court.
There the Judges Sisira Abrew, Nalin Perera and Malalgoda considered all aspects presented and gave a verdict which was presented to Parliament. It determined that the Bill would have no impact in any way on the powers of Parliament in terms of finances,” he explained, adding that this Bill was in accordance with the Constitution.