Sri Lanka trade chamber calls for early elections to end uncertainty
COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has called for early general elections to end political uncertainty and allow businesses to make investment decisions with confidence.
The election of President Maithripala Sirisena had led to improvements to greater judicial independence, improvements in rule of law and better international relations.
"In the meanwhile, pending a general election and a stable government being elected, the formulation and implementation of medium and long term economic policies have been put on hold," the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said.
"As a result, a period of uncertainty prevails over the current business climate and investors both local & foreign are adopting a cautious approach towards investing in Sri Lanka.
"This is unfortunate since there has been much renewed interest in the Country’s economic potential post the Presidential election in January of this year.
"Such interest has only been tempered by the prevailing sense of uncertainty. In the event of an investment slow down, the Country’s growth targets for the year are likely to be affected as are government revenue collections."
Under the original election manifesto President Sirisena pledged to dissolve parliament by April 23, but planned constitutional reforms are to be presented to parliament only on April 20.
"Whilst a few days delay to accommodate urgent constitutional reforms will not be viewed negatively, an attempt to postpone the General Elections on fragile grounds will be seen as being contrary to the promise of good governance," the Chamber said.
"Considering the above and with special emphasis on the impact of uncertainty on the Country’s economic & business environment, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce urges the President and Government to call a General Election at the earliest possible opportunity…"
President Sirisena had made a public statement that he would dissolve parliament after the constitutional reforms are presented, leading to speculation that it may happen early in May.
The current United National Party led administration is operating with a parliament elected in 2010, reflecting the electoral preferences of that time and has run into difficulties in parliament with an attempt to raise short term debt being scuttled.
Meanwhile a consumer agency under the Trade Ministry headed by Rishard Bathiudeen has also slapped Soviet-style price controls even on hopper and tea boutiques, making nonsense of claims by the administration that is for a market economy.