“The draft of Sri Lanka’s new Constitution has been completed and it is expected to be ready for Parliament’s approval by early 2022,” Foreign Minister G L Peiris said on Tuesday.
Peiris said that as pledged by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his presidential election manifesto in 2019, he has appointed a committee of experts to formulate the draft.
“This draft has now been completed and awaiting to be sent to the Legal Draftsman,” Peiris said, hoping that the final draft would be made available by the turn of the new year.
However, he did not elaborate on the form of the new Constitution.
Peiris said that from mid-November, the budget for 2022 would be dealt by the parliament until mid-December.
Noting that the making of the Constitution was a complicated process, the minister said that with the change of times and people’s needs, it needs changing.
Sri Lanka has in the past made many attempts to change the current Constitution. Since 1997, all such attempts, including the last in 2015, were aborted after months of deliberations.
In 2019, the ruling alliance was making platform speeches about the abolishment of the country’s provincial councils system, which was mooted by India under the thirteenth amendment to the current Constitution adopted in 1978.
The 2017 Act will have to be amended as in 2018 the Parliament had rejected the delimitation report which should have been approved with a two-thirds majority to make the new hybrid system legal.
Rajapaksa since being elected annulled the 19th Amendment adopted in 2015 which had curtailed presidential powers by strengthening the functions of Parliament.
However, he has shown no interest to hold provincial council elections for the nine provinces currently held up due to the need of legislative changes to the Provincial Councils Act.
The Sri Lankan government last week said that the long-pending provincial council elections in all of its nine provinces would not be possible until the 2017 Act is amended in Parliament.
The provincial elections have been postponed since 2017 as the then government (United National Party) wanted to reform the process by introducing a new hybrid system of first past the post and proportional representation from the current system of proportional representation.
Rajapaksa’s 2019 manifesto said that a select committee would be appointed to “look into the provincial councils” among the other areas of the executive presidency, electoral reform and the independence of judiciary.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, during his visit to the country earlier this month, reiterated India’s wish to see the early holding of the provincial council elections and full powers be conferred on them.
His visit triggered the discussion on the provincial council elections with parties expressing desire to hold them.