“We would reveal today what the government has hidden from the masses. As a budget was not passed in Parliament last year due to the presidential election, the government expenses till 30th April this year was allocated from a ‘Vote on Account’. The Parliament was dissolved on 2nd March. According to Fiscal Management (Responsibility) Act No. 3 of 2003, a report on the financial situation in the country should be presented to the people within 3 weeks of the dissolution. On 23rd March the Ministry of Finance published this report on its website. Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa, as the Minister of Finance, has signed the report. On page 12 of the report, another ‘Vote on Account’ that has allocated funds for the government has been mentioned. It states the President prepared the relevant ‘Vote on Account’ in terms of provisions of Paragraph (3) of Article 150 of the Constitution to be valid for three months from 06th March 2020. However, Parliament did not meet on 6th March. Nevertheless, Rs. One thousand two hundred twenty-nine billion has been allocated from a Vote on Account’. A ‘Vote on Account’ should be passed in Parliament. How was it passed when Parliament was dissolved on 2nd March? Who made this ‘Vote on Account’? No one can implement a ‘Vote on Account’ without it being passed in Parliament. Doing so is illegal,” said Member of the Political Bureau of the JVP and former Parliamentarian Comrade Sunil Handunneththi.
He said this at a press briefing held at the head office of the JVP yesterday (6th) broadcast via online video conference.
Speaking further Comrade Handunnetahathi said, “Meanwhile, it is also stated in the report that ‘the total provision of Rs. One thousand two hundred twenty-nine billion has been provided for the government expenditure comprising Rs. Seven hundred fifteen billion for recurrent expenditure and Rs. 150 billion for capital expenditure which includes the spillover expenditure from 2019. Rs. Three hundred sixty billion has been allocated for the loan repayment. The estimated government expenditure for the respected period is Rs. 420 billion’.
How can the date after the dissolution of Parliament mentioned as the date the ‘Vote on Account’ was passed? The report is an official document. Clause 150 (3) of the Constitution clearly states “Where the President dissolves Parliament before the Appropriation Bill for the financial year has passed into law, he may unless Parliament shall have already made provision, authorize the issue from the Consolidated Fund and the expenditure of such sums as he may consider necessary for the public services until the expiry of a period of three months from the date on which the new Parliament is summoned to meet.” Here it does not mention a ‘Vote on Account’. It states the President has the authority to issue funds from the Consolidated Fund for three months’ from the day a new Parliament is to meet until its budget is presented. However, what the report states is that a ‘Vote on Account’ was prepared to provide Rs. One thousand two hundred twenty-nine billion for government expenditure.
The President has no legal right to spend money according to his whims and fancies. It is a despotic attempt to use fictitious documents. Will the Minister of Finance and the Ministry officials accept such an account has been prepared?”