Sri Lanka candidates must be transparent; commit to strengthening institutions: activist

ECONOMYNEXT – Candidates for upcoming presidential polls in Sri Lanka should be transparent and work towards strengthening independent public institutions, an governance activist has said.

Candidates must declare assets, personal details and achievements and sources of funding, Chandra Jayaratne, a former business executive and governance activist said.

He called on the candidate to be committed to abolish the executive presidency, set up a second chamber in parliament and strengthen the independence of the public service.

The full statement is reproduced below:

All Presidential Candidates Must be Transparent and Must Enter in to a Social Contract

-Chandra Jayaratne-

All Presidential Candidates, before seeking nominations, must transparently declare publicly, all  relevant personal details, including the following;

·         Date of Birth and National Identity Card number

·         Highest educational attainment

·         Citizenship

·         A core capability statement, setting out descriptively their knowledge, skills, attitudes and values

·         Core Personal Characteristics, setting out in addition, their Strengths and Weaknesses ( the ones the candidate can observe and have experienced; but not transparent to outsiders)

·         Significant personal achievements to date

·         Significant leadership achievements to date

·         A brief record of significant Public Services to Society at large

·         Political Track Record

·         Top ten Socio Economic reforms/commitments, if elected (not mere motherhood statements)

·         Top ten Change Management Commitments to advance the interests of the Nation and its People towards sustainable growth and prosperity

·         Top five action commitments to avoid in public life, in order to refrain from engaging in socially unacceptable behaviours 

and these candidates must further affirm and declare :

·         That he/she is a “Fit and Proper” Person to hold office and have no criminal records, nor subject to even any allegations pending before court  or under investigation, where if convicted the penal sanctions will be in excess of 2 years imprisonment

·         The latest available Assets and Liabilities, Interests and Related Party disclosures of the candidate and family

·         Key Sources of Political and Election Funding

·         Ethical Public life leadership Commitments whilst holding Office, covering:

o   Selflessness: to act always entirely in the public interest.

o   Integrity: not to accept any financial obligations or engage in any financial transactions or have at any time any conflicting interests (both in business and at a personal /family level) which could undermine the position.

o   Objectivity: when making national resource allocations, approving national interest policies and practices  and in making appointments, all decisions should always be based on merit and always in the sustainable national interest

o   Accountability: as a holder of public office be accountable, and should co-operate with all scrutiny procedures.

o   Openness: all decisions should be justified, and information should be restricted only when necessary for the public interest.

o   Honesty: as a public office-holder be duty bound, to be honest in all dealings in governance.

o   Leadership: the principles should be supported and upheld as a Role Model in Society

and further declare in a personal commitments led manifesto, the following Leadership Commitments, if elected to the Office of President:

·         Executive Presidential Systems be abolished within 18 months by a Constitutional Amendment and replaced by a Westminster Model Based Parliamentary Governance  system; along with

o   the vesting of the Constitutional Council majority in favour of Civil Society nominees;

o   Parliamentary /Provincial Council Voting systems be a mixed proportionate and first past the post combination;

o   with a Second Chamber for review of legislation, comprising of  Provincial Chief Ministers and Professionals / Civil Society Leaders  with acceptable core commitments, capability, Independence and Integrity; 

o   full devolution in line with 13th Amendment plus, whilst protecting national security and sovereignty:

o   amendment to Section 52, whereby Minsters will  not retain power of direction and control over affairs of the Ministries and

o   introducing a restricted three term limit or 65 years  whichever is earlier being imposed on elected representatives in Parliament, Provincial Councils and Local Government

o   Strengthening further the powers and independence of the Independent Public Institutions, the Central Bank, and Regulatory bodies and the office of the Attorney General alongside a separate independent Public Prosecutor

o   Making all entities ( including entities formed under the Companies Act) with majority state control (by way of ownership and / or director appointments) to come under the review of the Auditor General and Parliamentary Oversight Committees

·         Promote and maintain without any diminution the Present Empowerments and Effectiveness and Value to Society  of Parliamentary Oversight Committees, COPE and PAC and the newly established Parliamentary Budget Office (introducing Post Audit Reviews of fund allocations for any project ( capital and revenue) exceeding Rupees One Billion)and make access open to Public Representations Committee system without the need for a parliamentary member endorsement

·         Right to Information legislative framework and effective response mechanisms with due accountability, to be further promoted and strengthened and maintained without any diminution of its present effectiveness and value to society

·         Create the undernoted new Independent Commissions

o   a New Land Alienation, Development, Usage and Urban Planning Independent Commission, to ensure effective, productive, equitable, sustainable and growth and prosperity assuring land use and engage in oversight enforcement of all associated legislative enactments and regulations ,

o   create new Independent Commission to optimize, co-ordinate and control State Revenue Collections and ensure transparent State Revenue Collection processes and systems are in place

o   create a new Independent Public Commission to co-ordinate and maintain, a data base of intelligence for follow up, state asset recovery, stolen asset recovery and recovery actions by related law enforcement agencies, where joint and collective professional investigative initiatives amongst the enforcement authorities are required and to advise on state reforms essential to minimize money laundering and illegal transfer of state assets and national resources/assets

·         Strengthen the processes and effective Independent functioning of the Central Bank, Audit Commission ( including effective enforcement of the Audit Act), Public Services, Police Commission and Bribery and Corruption Commissions and

·         Ensure appointments of officials to all High Posts, Independent Commissions and Regulatory Bodies are filled by persons with integrity, independence and capability track records and be processed via the Constitutional Council

·         Commitment to a Non Aligned Foreign Policy effectively adopting best practices of Diplomacy with at least 75% of positions filled by career diplomats and balance by capable professionals

·         Commitment to promote ethno religious harmony and ensure Peace and Security and ensure Democratic and Human Rights and Freedoms and Rule of Law being fffectively upheld at all times

·         Commitment to take affirmative action

o   to eradicate Poverty and

o   to empower  all marginalized, disadvantaged and conflict affected families, enabling them to engage in value adding lives and  livelihoods and ,

o   to Preserve the Environment and

o   Promote gender equality and empowerment of women and youth in society

o   to provide shelter for homeless and water, sanitation, health and educational and skills development services to all citizens

·         To adopt the principles of good governance and

o   ensure Equity and Equality and Transparent Accountability in the  use of national resources

o   Exercise care and due diligence in the management of the fiscal spends and minimize fiscal deficits and adhere to all principles committed to under the Fiscal Responsibilities Act

o   Ensure effective external and internal debt management and observe all commitments under the Active Liability Management Law and Monetary Law Act, assuring low inflation and sufficient external reserves with acceptable Sovereign Ratings and Financial Action Task Force ratings

 

With all of above commitments being a due accountability of the holder of office, once elected as the President, created by way of a binding Social Contract with voters and all citizens.

It is the fervent hope that all political parties and presidential candidates will accept the above structure of transparent disclosure and binding commitments and also all civil society lead organization, both in the cities as well as at village level, will advocate for same and promote its adoption by all candidates.