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* Controversial poverty alleviation bill presented in Sri Lanka parliament for the second time
Tue, Nov 6, 2012, 09:28 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 06, Colombo: The Speaker of Sri Lanka parliament announced the Supreme Court's ruling on the controversial poverty alleviation legislation, Divineguma bill when the parliament reconvened Tuesday.

Announcing the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the legislation, the Speaker said the apex court has ruled that certain clauses of the Bill should be approved by a special two-third majority in the parliament.

The Supreme Court has decided that 11 clauses of the bill can only be approved by a two-third majority in the parliament while one of the clauses needs to be approved through a public referendum. However the clause can be amended to avoid a referendum.

Following the Speaker's announcement the Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa presented the Divineguma Bill to the parliament for second reading.

The controversial legislation aimed at alleviation of poverty in the country with the community participation proposes the establishment of a new Divineguma Department by amalgamating the Samurdhi Authority, Southern Development Authority and the Udarata Development Authority to better achieve the grassroots economic development.

The bill also aims to give a commercial value to home gardens through micro financing introduced under the proposed Divineguma Department.

However, when the Bill was presented to the parliament in August this year, it immediately drew opposition and was referred to the Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality.

The Supreme Court ruled that the bill cannot be approved in the legislature without being sanctioned by provincial councils and the bill was presented to all nine provincial councils for approval. Eight provincial councils had approved the bill and the Governor of the Northern Province approved the Bill for that Province which does not yet have an elected administration.

Minister Rajapaksa has earlier said that the government is ready to act according to the decision of the Supreme Court, even for a referendum if it is necessary.

The bill has drawn so much controversy that it has been scrutinized by the Supreme Court twice and also currently 14 petitions have been filed against the bill in the Supreme Court in support of and against the legislation.



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