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Sri Lanka business chamber calls for early parliamentary polls

May 25, 2015 19:19 PM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s top business chamber called for immediate parliamentary elections and for political parties to nominate only candidates with an unblemished record.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said political parties who fail to nominate only candidates free of involvement in crime and further delays in holding general elections  would cause investor uncertainty and hold up policy planning.

A statement said it endorsed the ‘March 12th Declaration,’ an initiative of People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and the ‘Citizens’ Collective’ that identifies a minimum set of criteria that political parties should use when selecting candidates to face all future elections.

The March 12th Declaration included criteria that a candidate should not be a person jailed for crime or who received a suspended sentence, or guilty of bribery or corruption and should be acceptable to society and be a person of good character.

It said candidates should not be persons involved in drugs, gambling and prostitution or engaging in trade which destroys the environment or who abused political power.

The March 12th Declaration said political parties should provide adequate opportunities for representation of women and youth when nominating candidates.

The Ceylon Chamber said they “strongly believe that a political culture enshrined with true democratic ideals, free of corruption and other social malice are an absolute necessity for a truly productive and competitive private sector.”

Such a culture will help attract quality investment, both local and foreign, enhance international trade and create an environment conducive to achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth, it said.

“We once again reiterate the need for conducting parliamentary elections without delay. The contradictions emerging from amongst the diverse political forces currently forming a coalition government are leading to instability.”

The statement said the business community is concerned as are potential investors from overseas.

“National policies including those relating to the economy are on the back burner pending a general election and the formation of a government with an appropriate mandate.”

The full statement is given below:

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the endorsement of the ‘March 12th Declaration,’ an initiative of PAFFREL and the ‘Citizens’ Collective’. The declaration identifies a minimum set of criteria that political parties should use when selecting candidates to face all future elections.

We strongly believe that a political culture enshrined with true democratic ideals, free of corruption and other social malice are an absolute necessity for a truly productive and competitive private sector. Such a culture will help attract quality investment, both local and foreign, enhance international trade and create an environment conducive to achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth thus fulfilling the aspirations of all our people. We strongly believe that the time has arrived to foster such qualitative change in the political culture of our nation. In this context, we applaud this most important initiative taken by PAFFREL & Citizens’ Collective. We are also pleased to note that almost all political parties have endorsed the March 12th Declaration thus demonstrating their commitment towards establishing such a political culture.

 In this context, we applaud the decision taken by The President in not extending the tenure of Local Government Institutions thus paving way for the people to exercise their franchise and select those whom they believe can serve them best. We consider this a positive step in reinforcing democratic ideals and good governance in the Country.

 In the same tenor, we once again reiterate the need for conducting parliamentary elections without delay. The contradictions emerging from amongst the diverse political forces currently forming a coalition government are leading to instability. The business community is concerned as are potential investors from overseas. The mandate for the present government was to implement a 100 day program & currently more than 30 days have passed from the date Parliament was meant to be dissolved, i.e. 23rd April. National policies including those relating to the economy are on the back burner pending a general election and the formation of a government with an appropriate mandate. It is imperative that such a government is elected to office at the earliest so that policies can be formulated & implemented to kick-start the economy and exploit its true potential. However, in the event there is consensus amongst political parties that other constitutional amendments - including electoral reforms – are vital before parliamentary elections, we urge that such enactments are expedited considering the serious impact that any delay & the associated uncertainty has on the national economy.

Elections, both at national and local government level are in the offing and the Chamber reiterates that the onus is now on the leadership of all political parties to demonstrate their true commitment indeed by nominating candidates with an unblemished record, strictly abiding by the criteria outlined in the March 12th Declaration. This would be the first step towards establishing a political culture that truly serves the needs of the people of Sri Lanka.

 The Chamber whilst endorsing this timely initiative, assures its fullest & continued support to propagate the important ideals set out in the March 12th Declaration and in realizing the objectives enshrined therein.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, an institution that has served the Nation for 176 years, is a confederation of 8,500 business entities - small & medium to large conglomerates, both private and quoted and Sri Lankan and multinational - 21 Business Councils, 37 Trade Associations and 22 Regional, Sectoral and Other Chambers. It is affiliated to over 120 international chambers worldwide and is recognized as the Country’s premier business chamber.
 


 

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