United National Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday that the framework agreement between the Government and the New Fortress Energy (NFE) Sri Lanka LLC had been entered into in violation of the powers, privileges and immunity of Parliament and called on the Government to make a full disclosure to the House.
In September, the New York-based gas-to-power developer New Fortress Energy (NFE) announced it had finalised a contract with Sri Lanka’s Government to construct a new offshore LNG (Liquefied Nitrogen Gas) receiving, storage and regasification terminal but the legitimacy of the agreement is being questioned and has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
The UNP leader raised a privilege issue, alleging that the agreement’s terms prevented ministers from fulfilling their obligation to Parliament to provide information requested by an MP.
Mr. Wickremesinghe who tabled a copy of the agreement and said he had obtained it from court. He said it contained certain clauses that breached the powers and privileges of Parliament.
He said Clause 8 which deals with Confidentiality and Announcements states that for five years “either party shall not with the prior written consent of the other parties disclose to any person any information.”The permitted disclosures are in regard to order of a court, arbitration tribunal or an order or decree, rule and regulation of any Governmental Authority.
“It makes reference to Governmental Authority, but parliament is not a Government. It is the legislature. Therefore, the Minister cannot obtain information under this joint venture agreement for the purpose of disclosing it to Parliament,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
He called on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to use his powers granted by the Constitution to declare that the agreement was in violation of the powers, privileges and immunity of Parliament.
He also requested the Speaker to summon the Secretary to the President, directors of the NFE Sri Lanka and the Attorney General to Parliament over this matter.
House Leader and Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said the Government was willing to discuss the issue with party leaders and the relevant information would be provided to the House.
(Except for the headline, this story, originally published by sundaytimes.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)