Sri Lanka business chamber disappointed with watered down reforms

 COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s main business chamber, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, welcomed constitutional reforms passed by parliament Tuesday but warned that last-minute amendments could compromise the independence of public institutions.

The constitutional amendments would “improve democratic ideals” in the country, it said in a statement.

The amendments aimed to reduce the power of the executive presidency and restored a two-term limit while reviving independent bodies to manage key institutions like the police, public service and the judiciary.

But the opposition which has a majority in parliament demanded last-minute changes that watered down the reforms.

The changes affected the make up of a Constitutional Council which will make key appointments to run public institutions, giving it a majority of politicians that negated the aim of making it an independent institution.

“The Ceylon Chamber cautions that the committee stage amendments to increase the number of Parliamentarians in the composition of the Constitutional Council has the potential to compromise its independence,” the statement said.

It said the chamber believes that the original clause would have “served the interests of the country and its people better than the one on which the President, Prime Minister and the Government were finally forced to compromise on.”