President challenged to prove authority to incur public expenditure

Mangala Samaraweera

Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera today challenged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to explain and prove the constitutional authority he and his government possess to authorize and incur public expenditure from April 30, 2020.

Samaraweera made these remarks in a letter addressed to Secretary to the President Dr. P.B Jayasundara today. The former Finance Minister had written to the President on 28 April 2020 requesting Parliament be convened in order to find a solution to the impending constitutional crisis and had received a response letter on the 30th April by Jayasundara.

letter to Jayasundara there is no Appropriation Bill or a Vote on Account duly passed by Parliament for public spending after April 30, 2020 and that the President may override fiscal powers of Parliament and authorize expenditure from the Consolidated Fund only for a period of three months after the convening of a new Parliament consequent to a general election.

He added that under Article 150 (4) of the Constitution, the President is authorized to issue and spend from the Consolidated Fund for expenditure incurred in holding a General Election.

“Except for the above and the provisions of Article 150 (3), there is no other provision in the Constitution that allows the President to exercise his authority to withdraw and spend funds from the Consolidated Fund for public services,” Samaraweera added.

“Therefore, my letter to the President emphasized that only Parliament can lawfully authorize spending of public funds from April 30, 2020, up to the date on which Parliament is summoned to meet again. Although the Election Commission has announced that the general election will be held on June 20, 2020, the date on which the new Parliament shall be convened has not yet been declared officially.”

He further noted that the Parliament has full control over public finances in terms of Article 148 of the Constitution.

(Source: The Morning)