Practical approach to solving Sri Lanka’s crisis
A crisis is the best time to analyze what went wrong & what we can do to correct this. A constitution is just a piece of paper. Its applicability is what matters. Its applicability by the correct persons is equally important. The problem lies in the issue of definition of ‘correct persons’. Everyone has their own view of ‘correct person’ as per what is advantageous to them or their line of thinking. So where do we draw the line?
Government Apparatus – The Legislature
Headed by the PM, this is the pillar making the laws & enacting them. The people’s grievance with this pillar is rampant corruption / favoritism & cronyism / political bias / Public Sector corruption / Wastage of state funds / not keeping to a National Plan
Solving corruption by Politicians / their cronies & the Public Sector
New entity of an Ombudsman Ministry must be the conduit which will accept complaints against Politicians & Public Sector personnel for any acts of corruptions. They will do the preliminary investigations & then present to AG’s department to file action. There should be no political interference in this process. Perhaps the AG’s dept should come under the judiciary instead of the Justice Ministry.
Immediate action is to take cases where Senior Secretaries have indulged in corrupt practices and investigate their bank accounts & lifestyles & take necessary action against them. This will immediately straighten up the public sector as their corruptions happen hiding behind the politicians.
Target the Public Sector corruptions first & see a major change. It will send a message down the line to all other levels of Public Servants indulging in corrupt practices including lethargy & wasting public funds for personal use.
Change criteria for voting & revise salary and perks given to Ministers & MPs. The current wastage they indulge in with impunity must stop. Every aspect of undue privileges must be stopped. Their package needs to be revisited & revised.
Changing voting system – end proportional representation as it is bringing politicians who people have not voted for to enter Parliament simply due to the seat allocations.
The above two will discourage politicians who become politicians simply to enjoy a life of luxury from entering politics.
Political cronyism/favoritism/political bias
The practice of appointing wives/daughters/sons as private secretaries must stop. No family member should be allowed to hold post directly under or reporting to the Minister. All positions must be based on an exam/interviews and via selection criteria process as took place prior to 1978.
Wastage of State Funds
The practice of refurbishing official residences with every change of Minister or Govt must stop.
With clear demarcations as to what every state sector employee (from politician to peon) is allowed – wastage will automatically stop or be brought to a minimum. Punitive actions must be clearly identified and implemented.
If the judiciary is corrupt, is it in any position to punish other corrupt? Therefore, there is need for some transparency in the judicial mechanism as well. Judges of the Court who are held as the beacons of justice and lawyers too cannot be corrupt when they are tasked to deliver justice & punish the corrupt. This is a key area where justice is not happening as people expect.
Every Ministry had a planning unit – these are non-functional entities because of political interference and lethargy of public officials. These must be revised and they must be tasked to come up with necessary plans for their Ministries which must get amalgamated into a proper national development plan that CANNOT change with every government unless they add value to the plan.
Sri Lanka has the ability to come out of the crisis easily unlike other countries. We have the resources. We have the brains. We have committed people. The problem is these people are always sidelined and a bunch of opportunists take over & ruin all the wealth we have. We have to protect our wealth (our People/ Our Resources/Our Assets) Any proposal or any investment cannot barter these key wealth channels. Investments must be done giving priority to protecting these 3 areas.
We must first identify what we deem ‘development’ – thereafter only, we should form workable action plan to reach these goals.
When the above are functioning as they should – the President will also fall in line.
We are faced with a situation of the lack of $$$ to import even essentials, this means
- We have to remove ourselves from the mentality of relying on $$$ & import everything (dedollarize is the trend) – think of new ways we can negotiate import of essentials
- Govt must uplift whatever can sustain our people and support them in new out of the box solutions. Food is most important area.
- We must think of quick revenue generating projects and take these proposals to foreign countries who have been traditional friends & come up with a win-win deal & implement these projects quickly. This can be used to negotiate a delay in any loan payment.
- If countries who are exporting from Sri Lanka are using this as a threat to cancel our orders – then we must find alternative export options with other countries. Sri Lanka should not meekly allow to be blackmailed. We must either look for other options or find ways to mitigate the threat.
- The biggest obstacle in developing Sri Lanka, unfortunately remains India who never wants to see Sri Lanka develop & it is not because Sri Lanka is seen as a threat to India but simply because India wishes to bully Sri Lanka & use Sri Lanka as its foothold. No government has devised a plan to mitigate this threat. Whatever national plans Sri Lanka has, however great these are on paper, India will never allow them to materialize. With India now part of Quad – Sri Lanka is now vulnerable to 2 powerful bullies on our soil.
At present we are in a situation where we have to first come out of the rut we are in. It is agreed that the corrupt system that currently exists cannot deliver any solutions even if an election is held.
Therefore, People must call for immediate implementation of a new voting system, revised perks/salaries for politicians, punitive actions against Public Sector officials (from Senior downwards).
The Ombudsman’s Ministry can channel complaints against Politicians & Public Sector & a revamped Judiciary can take the cases & deliver justice as deserved.
This will start the domino effect for the change we need.
We should not fall prey for proposals that are drafted from external parties whether these are what IMF gives CBSL, USAID gives BASL or foreign think tanks that give local NGOs in Sri Lanka. These proposals are all to benefit not Sri Lanka or Sri Lankans but are aligned with their geopolitical project for Sri Lanka.
This is our country. People who want to protect and preserve our sovereignty, our territorial integrity must champion these changes. We must have relations with all countries, but all countries must know, Sri Lanka puts its interests first. If Mrs.B could tell that to the West and East and she remains the only Sri Lankan leader held in high esteem by both blocs even now, why can’t the present leaders lead with spine?
Shenali D Waduge