The Government`s refusal to table several annexures of the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) with the United States Of America, drew flak from the main opposition UNP and the JVP in Parliament yesterday.
The JVP which raised the matter urged House Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva to table a comprehensive copy of the agreement without concealing facts from the people.
JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Wimal Weerawansa said Minister De Silva tabled only a part of the agreement when the matter was debated in the House earlier Mr. Weerawansa said that the Government avoided its responsibility by not tabling the relevant annexures containing crucial information.
`We requested the Government to reveal all the information in the ACSA to the House. But, the Government avoided the matter giving elusive answers to our questions,` he said.
The JVP asked for a definite position from the Government on July 17 in this regard in Parliament.
In reply to this request, Minister De Silva informed the House yesterday that the Government had a practical difficulty in tabling these annexures because of a Supreme Court case in this regard.
He also read out a letter from the Government`s lawyer appearing for the case based on a petition filed by Presidential Advisor Vasudeva Nanayakkara in the Supreme Court.
His remarks sparked strong reaction from Mr. Weerawansa who said there was no barrier in tabling this document because of this court case.
`It is wrong for us to debate an issue taken up in court. But, there is no problem in tabling these annexures. If the Government refuses to do so, it will be an insult to the sovereign right of Parliament. We, as public representatives, should know about this Agreement struck with the United States,` he said.
He insisted that a definite answer be given by the Leader of the House before moving into other business of the day.
Following this insistence, Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara suspended sittings at 10.20 a.m. for a Party leaders` meeting to discuss the matter further.
When the House resumed business at 11.25 a.m. the Speaker announced that the Government would notify its stand after consulting the Attorney General.
He said the Leader of the House would also consult the Defence Ministry and President Mahinda Rajapaksa as well.
However, the JVP urged the Government to come up with a clear cut stand in this regard.
`We want a definite answer,` he said.
At this point, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said he also undertook to sign this Agreement as the then Prime Minister.
He said the sole intention was to purchase military equipment and spare parts at a concessionary rate from the United States, and therefore there was nothing to be hidden.
In this context, he queried why the Government was hiding facts from people and Parliament.
`I do not know whether there is anything new added to the original agreement under these circumstances,` he said.
He also asked as to how the Defence Secretary holding US citizenship, could enter into an agreement with the US on behalf of the Government.
UNP Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella also requested the Speaker to give a ruling to the Government to table the relevant annexure without making Parliament a mockery.
Chief Opposition Whip Joseph Michael Perera also requested Speaker Lokubandara to order the Prime Minister to act in this regard on behalf of the President who is the Defence Minister.
In reply, the Speaker said the Prime Minister would take actionn in this regard today.
He also admitted that there was no difficulty in tabling these annexures due to the ongoing court case.