Parliament: Presidential council facilitates prompt decisions, resolves impasses

As part of the constitutional amendments, the president will need to consult the CPA before exercising most of his discretionary powers, including over all fiscal matters and appointments.
As part of the constitutional amendments, the president will need to consult the CPA before exercising most of his discretionary powers, including over all fiscal matters and appointments.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As an independent expert body, the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) provides a stabilising effect so that the president's custodial function does not depend solely on the judgement of a single person acting alone, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in Parliament on Monday (Nov 7).

It also plays a role in resolving disagreements between the president and the Government, and is an important part of the framework of the president's custodial powers, he added.

"Overall, we want the framework to facilitate wise and prompt decisions, with suitable mechanisms to resolve impasses," he said in a speech setting out the proposed changes to the elected presidency.

As part of the constitutional amendments, the president will need to consult the CPA before exercising most of his discretionary powers, including over all fiscal matters and appointments. Currently, some of these matters are excluded from this requirement.

The proposed amendments also set time limits of 30 days to six weeks for the president to veto certain government decisions. These can be shortened if the prime minister certifies that the matter is urgent, or lengthened if both the president and Cabinet agree.

This is to avoid ambiguity about whether the Government can proceed if the president remains silent on a matter, said Mr Teo.

The CPA must also let the president know of its recommendations at least five days before his time limit ends.

Under the changes proposed, the framework for the president and council to state their reasons for vetoes or recommendations will also be refined.

The council will have to provide the number of votes for and against its recommendations, and the grounds for these recommendations.

If the president vetoes a Supply Bill, he must publish his reasons for doing so in the Government Gazette.

With the enlarged role that the CPA will play, two more members will be added to the council to strengthen it, said Mr Teo.

One will be appointed by the president and one appointed on the advice of the prime minister, bringing the total number of members to eight.

 

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