Colombo notifies 20th Amendment

Even as certain sections of political parties in Sri Lanka continue to have reservations over the latest version of the proposed 20th Amendment, the government has gone ahead with the notification of the draft legislation in the gazette.

  • As per the decision taken by the Cabinet, the overall size of Parliament will be 237, a rise of 12 compared to the existing legislature. Of this, 145 members will be elected directly, through the system of first past the post (FPTP).

Sri Lankan political system: Basics-

  • The government of Sri Lanka is a semi-presidential system determined by the Sri Lankan Constitution.
  • The President, directly elected for a six-year term, is head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces.
  • The election occurs under the Sri Lankan form of the contingent vote.
  • Responsible to Parliament for the exercise of duties under the constitution and laws, the president may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of Parliament with the concurrence of the Supreme Court.
  • The President appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to Parliament.
  • The President’s deputy is the prime minister, who leads the ruling party in Parliament.
  • A parliamentary no-confidence vote requires dissolution of the cabinet and the appointment of a new one by the President.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

U.N. envoy hails 19th amendment

The 19th Constitutional Amendment, envisaging the dilution of powers of the Executive Presidency and other constitutional reforms in Sri Lanka, has come in for appreciation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. He appreciated the amendment during his opening statement to the 29th session of the Human Rights Council, which was held in Geneva recently.

The Sri Lankan Parliament had recently adopted the 19th Constitutional Amendment Bill with an overwhelming majority.

What is it about?

The legislation envisages the dilution of many powers of Executive Presidency, which had been in force since 1978.

Important features of the Bill:

  • The reduction in the terms of President and Parliament from six years to five years.
  • Re-introduction of a two-term limit that a person can have as President.
  • The power of President to dissolve Parliament only after four and a half years [unlike one year, as prevalent now].
  • The revival of Constitutional Council and the establishment of independent commissions.
  • The President remains the head of Cabinet and he can appoint Ministers on the advice of Prime Minister.

Sources: The Hindu.

Sri Lankan Cabinet clears new electoral system

The Sri Lankan Cabinet has finalised the broad contours of the proposed 20th Constitutional Amendment on electoral reforms.

  • This has left many smaller parties surprised and disappointed.

Details:

  • According to this decision, there will be no change in the size of Parliament. It will remain at 225. This was the major change from what was proposed earlier.
  • Unlike in the present system of proportional representation (PR), the proposed scheme marks a combination of the First Past The Post (FPTP) and PR. Of the total number of 225 seats, it had been decided to earmark 125 seats for FPTP and 100 seats for PR. Again, 75 seats out of 100 would be filled through members representing electoral districts while the remaining 25 seats would be set apart for the national list.

Sri Lankan political system: Basics-

  • The government of Sri Lanka is a semi-presidential system determined by the Sri Lankan Constitution.
  • The President, directly elected for a six-year term, is head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces.
  • The election occurs under the Sri Lankan form of the contingent vote.
  • Responsible to Parliament for the exercise of duties under the constitution and laws, the president may be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of Parliament with the concurrence of the Supreme Court.
  • The President appoints and heads a cabinet of ministers responsible to Parliament.
  • The President’s deputy is the prime minister, who leads the ruling party in Parliament.
  • A parliamentary no-confidence vote requires dissolution of the cabinet and the appointment of a new one by the President.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Cyclone Ashobaa: Weather department issues warning to fishermen in Gujarat

The deep depression over east- central Arabian Sea has further intensified into a cyclonic storm “Ashobaa“. The weather department has issued a warning to fishermen along the Gujarat coast, which is expected to receive heavy rainfall in the next 48 hours.

  • The depression is at about 590 km west-southwest of Mumbai.
  • The cyclone is gradually moving away towards Oman. Thus, it won’t have much impact on India. However, strong winds and heavy rainfall would make the sea conditions very rough.

Naming of Cyclones:

The North Indian Ocean region tropical cyclones are being named since October 2004. The region, comprising Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, each of them suggest seven names. The names given by the countries are used alphabetically one after the another.

  • The name Ashobaa was given by Sri Lanka.
  • The name of the cyclone that comes after Ashobaa, whenever that happens, will be Komen, and this name has been given by Thailand.
  • The last cyclone ‘Nilofar‘ was suggested by Pakistan.

Sources: The Hindu, skymetweather.

MPs want India to reclaim Katchatheevu

Few Rajya Sabha members recently asked the Centre to renegotiate with the government of Sri Lanka to reclaim the island of Katchatheevu.

  • Buoyed by the passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill to ratify the land border agreement with Bangladesh, these MPs said the government must reconsider the exchange of Katchatheevu as it was not done through a constitutional amendment and has not served India’s interest.

What is the need?

  • These MPs have said that the ceding of Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka without any constitutional amendment, has adversely affected the livelihood of fishermen of Tamil Nadu.
  • And it is also being said that the ceding of Katchatheevu is in total violation of the views given by the Supreme Court in a Presidential reference in the Berubari case.
Katchatheevu Island

Katchatheevu Island

Background:

The island of ‘Katchatheevu’ was ceded to Sri Lanka, in the year 1974. It was done in order to maintain good relationship with Sri Lanka.

It was argued that as a result of this hand over, the Tamil Indian Fishermen lost their rights which they exercised over the island and the surrounding seas for over thousand years. However, the government then had said that fishing and navigation rights were safeguarded for the future.

According to the agreement on the island, which falls in the Sri Lankan territory, Indian fishermen can rest and dry their nets during fishing in international waters.But this has often been violated by the SL Coast Guards.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki,

Sri Lanka adopts 19th Amendment

The Sri Lankan Parliament has adopted the 19th Constitutional Amendment Bill with an overwhelming majority.

What is it about?

The legislation envisages the dilution of many powers of Executive Presidency, which had been in force since 1978.

Important features of the Bill:

  • The reduction in the terms of President and Parliament from six years to five years.     (6 YEAR ===> 5 YEAR)
  • Re-introduction of a two-term limit that a person can have as President.  (ONLY 2 TERM AS PRESIDENT)
  • The power of President to dissolve Parliament only after four and a half years [unlike one year, as prevalent now.]
  • The revival of Constitutional Council and the establishment of independent commissions.
  • The President remains the head of Cabinet and he can appoint Ministers on the advice of Prime Minister.

Sources: The Hindu.

Proposal to permit Reserve Bank of India to enter into Currency Swap Agreement with the central bank of Sri Lanka

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, has given its ex-post-facto approval for entering into an agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for extending US$1.1 billion as a special /ad-hoc swap outside the Framework on Currency Swap Arrangement for SAARC Member Countries.

Total : $ 1.5 Billion to Srilanka
$400 million in SAARC framwork
$ 1.1 Billion in Special/ad-hoc outside the framwork

  • India has a Framework on Currency Swap Arrangement for SAARC Member Countries since 2012.
  • The facility is available to all SAARC member countries with a floor of US $100 million and ceiling of US $ 400 million within overall limit of US$ 2 billion and is valid till November 14, 2015.
  • RBI has proposed to make available US$400 million to Sri Lanka under this Framework
  • The remaining US$1.1 billion as a special/ad-hoc swap facility outside the Framework, but with the same terms and conditions, for 6 months against the request of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

How would this help Sri Lanka?

  • This will help Sri Lanka in availing a safety net against the probable volatility of their currency and provide short term liquidity that would contribute to Sri Lanka’s economic recovery.
  • This will also strengthen India’s bilateral relations and economic ties with Sri Lanka.

What is this Currency Swap Arrangement (CSA)?

  • This is an arrangement, between two friendly countries, which have regular, substantial or increasing trade, to basically involve in trading in their own local currencies,
  • Where both pay for import and export trade, at the predetermined rates of exchange, without bringing in third country currency like the US Dollar.
  • In such arrangements no third country currency is involved, thereby eliminating the need to worry about exchange variations.

Sources: PIB.