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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Make full disclosure about New Fortress Energy deal – Ranil Wickremesinghe

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United National Party (UNP) Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Saturday that the framework agreement between the Government and the US-based New Fortress Energy (NFE) had been entered into in violation of the powers, privileges and immunity of Parliament.

The UNP leader raising a privilege issue alleged that the agreement’s terms prevented ministers from fulfilling their obligation to Parliament to provide information requested by an MP.

He called on the Government to make a full disclosure of the agreement to the House.

“Under Article 43(1) of the Constitution, Ministers are collectively responsible to Parliament.Providing information to Parliament is governed both by our Standing Orders and the UK House of Commons practices,” he said.

Wickremesinghe tabled a copy of the agreement he had obtained from the Court, adding that the Framework Agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and NFE Sri Lanka Power Holdings LLC is in breach of the Ministerial duty of providing information to Parliament.

“I draw your attention to Clause 8 Confidentiality and Announcements. 8.1 states: For a period of five years either party shall not except with the prior written consent of the other parties, disclose to any person any information. The permitted disclosures are in regard to order of a court, arbitral tribunal or an order, decree, regulation or rule of any Governmental Authority. This Clause excludes any information being provided to Parliament. It makes a reference to Governmental Authority but Parliament is not government. It is the Legislature. Therefore, the Minister cannot obtain information under this Joint Venture agreement for the purpose of disclosing it to Parliament,” he remarked.

The former Prime Minister called on the Speaker to declare the agreement to be in violation of powers, privileges and immunity of Parliament and to summon the Secretary to the Treasury, the Directors of NFE Sri Lanka Power Holdings LLC and the Attorney General before Parliament.

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