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Government may convene a short session in September to pass GST bill

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New Delhi: With the monsoon session of parliament turning out to be a washout, the Narendra Modi government is thinking of convening a short session in September — mainly to secure passage for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, sources said.

gstThe sources said a “two-three-day session” could be convened in September as no major business could be carried out during the monsoon session that began on July 21 and ended on Thursday.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, which met on Thursday, decided not to recommend immediate prorogation of the houses. The two houses were adjourned sine die.

The sources said the decision to reconvene the monsoon session would depend on the progress the government makes in getting the support of opposition parties on the GST bill in the Rajya Sabha where it lacks a majority.

The bill could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session despite government efforts.

The Congress forced repeated adjournments in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over its demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje over their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi and of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam recruitment scam.

(IANS)

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Sri Lanka Forms Its Cabinet But Crisis Still Persists

Sirisena was health minister in Rajapaksa’s Cabinet when he defected and joined Wickremesinghe to challenge Rajapaksa in the 2015 presidential election.

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Sri Lanka, cabinet
Ranil Wickremesinghe, ousted as prime minister in October, takes his oath for the same post before Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena during his swearing-in ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Dec. 16, 2018. VOA

Sri Lanka’s president Thursday appointed 28 lawmakers and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as Cabinet ministers after weeks of political crisis led to government dysfunction.

President Maithripala Sirisena administered oaths in a private event. Wickremesinghe’s reinstatement as prime minister earlier this week and the appointment of a new Cabinet will result in Sri Lanka’s government resuming functions that have been obstructed since October, but continued acrimony between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe means the crisis is far from over.

Notably, Sirisena has not appointed a law and order minister, a crucial post for investigating corruption and crime allegations against former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa, his family and government members. Wickremesinghe promised such investigations before the 2015 elections.

 

Sri lanka, cabinet
Sri Lanka’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, front left, is sworn in as prime minister before President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Sirisena sparked the crisis in October when he suddenly sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed former President Rajapaksa in his place.

 

Wickremesinghe insisted he was sacked illegally and hunkered down in the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo, while Rajapaksa failed to secure majority support in Parliament in two chaotic no-confidence votes.

Sirisena dissolved Parliament and called for elections. The Supreme Court first suspended the move and later declared the dissolution unconstitutional.

Separately, the Court of Appeal ordered Rajapaksa and his Cabinet to cease functioning. As a result, the newly restored government in Sri Lanka has only 11 days left to pass a budget to provision state money in 2019.

 

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Sri Lanka’s ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe reacts during a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, VOA

 

After reappointing Wickremesinghe, Sirisena made a speech saying he doubted that the new arrangement would last long. Sri Lankans are not scheduled to go to the national polls again until 2020, but if the government fails to function, Parliament can pass a resolution with a two-thirds vote for snap elections.

Also Read: Lawmakers in Sri Lanka Defect From President to Prime Minister

Sirisena was health minister in Rajapaksa’s Cabinet when he defected and joined Wickremesinghe to challenge Rajapaksa in the 2015 presidential election. After victory he formed a government with Wickremesinghe as prime minister, but the two disagreed on everything from economic reform to investigating alleged government abuses during Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war. (VOA)