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Sunday June 16th, 2024

Sri Lanka police in dire straits as three-times lucky IGP gets extension: focus

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s police chief has got this third service extension, but the move by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to retain Chandana Wickramaratne also underscores the serious leadership crisis in the 157-year-old organization.

Granting another extension to Inspector-General Wickramaratne appears to be an affront to those appalled by the crime wave gripping the country, but not many know that the police chief has absolutely no disciplinary control over his officers because of the recent bureaucratic layer that has wrested the police chief’s powers.

While it is natural to hold the head of the police responsible for the prevailing pathetic state of law and order, the deepening crisis is a direct result of institutionally subverting the command-and-control structure, the Police Commission.

No Action Against Officers Coming Under Police Commission

“The Police Commission, which was intended to protect officers from politically motivated actions and transfers, may have ended up insulating them from any disciplinary action.”

The setting up of a Police Commission to handle all disciplinary matters and transfers of policemen and women has taken away the authority of the police chief to put such issues into effect himself. In fact, the IGP can only address the Police Commission through the secretary to the ministry of Public Security, a political appointee.

For example, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attacks recommended disciplinary action against several top officers, including the then intelligence chief Nilantha Jayawardena and Senior Deputy Inspector General (SDIG) Deshabandu Tennakoon, but nothing has been done to-date thanks to the ineffectual Police Commission.

The police chief’s authority extends only to men below the rank of sergeant and two lower-level constables have already been dismissed from the service for failing to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks. But, not a single senior officer has been disciplined to date because of procrastination by the Police Commission.

The same applies to police transfers. While the primary courts, the Attorney General and the police chief himself have called for the arrest/removal of officers such as Deshabandu Tennakoon from the Western province, the Secretary to the ministry of Public Security has blocked action.

Immediate and Comprehensive Reforms

It is clear that the current state of the Sri Lankan Police Department calls for immediate and comprehensive reforms. For a start, empowering the police chief, whether Wickramaratne is retained or not, is a crucial step towards addressing the issues plaguing the department.

In the current hierarchy, the officers directly in line to replace Wickramaratne have serious blemishes that preclude them. The first is current SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena who has been fined by the Supreme Court over his role in the Easter Sunday attacks. Next in line, SDIG Lalith Pathinayake and number three, SDIG Deshabandu Tennakoon have adverse findings against them and the Presidential Commission of Inquiry wanted them disciplined as well as criminally prosecuted.

Sources close to President Wickremesinghe said neither of the three contenders for the top job were considered and hence the extension to low-profile Wickramaratne.

Any change of guard in the leadership, however, may not change the law and order situation in the country given the disciplinary structure following the establishment of the Police Commission. The commission was intended to eliminate political interference and make the department more efficient, but successive commissions have repeatedly revealed their partisanship, which has effectively blocked any decisive action.

Politically Motivated Appointments Continue

The direct interference by the Ministry of Public Security has further compounded the issue. This interference has led to the appointment of politically motivated individuals in charge of police stations, many of whom have proven to be ineffective and ineffectual.

The consequences of this practice were evident after the violence that occurred on June 9, 2022, exposing the inefficiency of officers in charge of maintaining law and order and security.

Yet, there has been no significant shake-up in police leadership within high-crime areas. This lack of accountability not only perpetuates the problem but also raises serious questions about the integrity and effectiveness of law enforcement.

The IGP should be given the authority to lead the 80,000-plus men and women in the force and restore discipline and order. However, this reform must be part of a broader restructuring effort to make the entire police system more transparent, accountable, and responsive to the needs of the public.

The path to reform will be challenging, but it is necessary to restore public confidence and ensure the safety and security of the nation, especially in high-crime areas where drive-by shootings have become a grave concern.

The recent International Monetary Fund governnance diagnostic report went into a number of revenue agencies and suggested an internal affairs unit to probe misconduct of officials. Ironically police support was recommended for key agencies, including the anti-bribery commission.

However no mention was made of problems within the police, or the lack of an effective disciplinary mechanism or internal affairs unit within the police department itself. (COLOMBO/Oct 15/2023)

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  1. Yosuf says:

    Like any other state sector, political interference made the Police Dept inefficient and corrupt thereby causing lack of professionalism. God save this country

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  1. Yosuf says:

    Like any other state sector, political interference made the Police Dept inefficient and corrupt thereby causing lack of professionalism. God save this country

Sri Lanka car import relaxing roadmap given to IMF: State Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has submitted a roadmap on relaxing vehicle imports to the International Monetary Fund, State Minister of Finance Ranjith Siymabalapitiya said as the country recovers from the worst currency crises in the history of its central bank.

The import relaxation will allow vehicles for public transport, goods transport, then motor cycles and cars use by private individuals and after that, luxury cars, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

Luxury cars however attract the highest taxes for each dollar spent on imports.

Economic analysts have characterized vehicle import controls as a ‘cascading policy error’ that follows inflationary rate cuts, which then deprive taxes to the state and triggers more money printing and more forex shortages, requiring even higher corrective interest rates and a contraction of economic activities to save the rupee.

According to the latest IMF report car import controls may have led to revenue losses of 0.7 to 0.9 percent of GDP.

Sri Lanka started controlling imports few years after a central bank was set up in 1950 and also tightened exchange controls progressively, so that macroeconomists using post-1920 spurious monetary doctrines taught at Anglophone universities could print money through various mechanisms to suppress rates.

Sri Lanka is working with the IMF as a guide on many issues and the roadmap was submitted to the agency on June 14, Minister Siyambalapitiya said.

The IMF in an economic report released last week the plan was expected to be submitted by June 15.

Whatever the IMF’s faults, which some wags have called ‘progressive Saltwaterism’, the agency does not advocate import controls as solution to balance of payments problems, despite a Mercantilist fixation with the current account deficit in countries with reserve collecting central banks, analysts say.

Import controls have the same effect as import substation on the balance of payments, which is none, classical economists have pointed out and is now mainly a problem associated with macro economists and economic bureaucrats of so-called basket case countries.

Any pressure on the currency or missed reserves targets in the IMF program has come in the past only if the central bank printed money to suppress rates as credit growth picked up from car imports.

Sri Lanka had 3,000 items under import controls when rates were suppressed with printed money from 2020 to 2022 but eventually ended up with the worst currency crisis triggered by macro economists in the history of the country and eventual external default.

A committee made up of the Department of Trade and Fiscal Policy of the Finance Ministry, the Department of Registration of Motor Vehicles, the Central Bank and two associations representing vehicle imports were appointed to come up with the roadmap, he said. (Colombo/June15/2024)

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Chitrasiri Committee presents draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket

ECONOMYNEXT – A draft constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket, the governing body for cricket in the island, prepared by a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge K T Chitrasiri, was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe today (15).

The Sri Lanka team were ignominiously knocked out of the Men’s T20 World Cup tournament this week, sparking renewed criticism of the team and the governing body.

Last November, a cabinet sub-committee was appointed to address challenges faced by Sri Lanka Cricket and provide recommendations after consecutive losses became a hot topic in parliament.

After parliament decided to remove the administrators of the sport, the International Cricket Council (ICC) Board suspended Sri Lanka Cricket’s membership.

Based on the sub-committee’s recommendations in its report, the Cabinet then appointed an expert committee to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket.

The committee headed by judge K T Chitrasiri includes President’s Counsel Harsha Amarasekara, Attorney-at-Law Dr Aritha Wickramanayake and Chairman of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce Duminda Hulangamuwa.

Deputy Solicitor General Manohara Jayasinghe, and Shamila Krishanthi, Assistant Draftsman representing the Legal Draftsman’s Department, and Loshini Peiris, Additional Secretary to the President were also on the committee. (Colombo/Jun14/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Cable Solutions in Rs605mn IPO

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cable Solutions Limited will make an initial public offering of ordinary voting shares on the Diri Savi Board of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE).

The CSE had approved, in-principle, an application submitted by the company, for the listing of its ordinary voting shares by way of an offer for subscription and an offer for sale.

For subscription, 14,666,600 shares would be offered at 7.50 rupees a share.

For sale, 66,120,000 shares would be offered at 7.50 rupees a share.

The opening of subscription list is July 23. Copies of the prospectus would be made available to trading participants on July 9. (Colombo/Jun15/2024)

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