May 03, 2017 (LBO) – Speaker Karu Jayasuriya today informed Parliament that the Supreme Court has declared that the proposed foreign exchange bill is not inconsistent with the constitution.
Speaker Jayasuriya however stated that the bill should only be presented to the Parliament subject to the amendments that has been declared by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court determination states that:
“The Central Bank is not an autonomous institution. It is an agent of the government which would be accountable to the executive and the Parliament. The government will regulate the activities of the agent through the directions by the minister; through the member of the government. The minister can not give directions to the whims and fancies but only for the implementation of the provisions of the Act. The Central Bank is only an agent of the government and is subject to the government and not there to act on their own.”
The Supreme Court decision came after taking up three petitions filed by Parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardane, Attorneys-at-law Darshana Weraduwage and Nagananda Kodituwakku before court under section 121 (1) of the constitution.
Petitioners challenged the bill saying the bill shall become law only through a two-thirds majority in Parliament and the approval of the people at a referendum as it infringes Articles 03, 04, 12(1), 14(1)(g), 27(2)(a), 27(3), 148 of the Constitution.
The new law seeks to provide incentives for Sri Lankans having money outside the country to remit that money to Sri Lanka without having to face criminal penalties.
The proposed law has also incorporated provisions for the minister to intervene where foreign exchange outflows can be a threat to the national economy.