16 May, 2022

Blog

An Exit Strategy From The Crisis: Agenda For Shared Revival Of Sri Lanka

By Krishan Deheragoda

Prof. Krishan Deheragoda

Introduction

Politicization of the entire state machinery including the judiciary and the Central Bank followed. Systemic failures in the state governance and socio-economic management coupled with the collapse of the law and order had pushed the 21 million people of Sri Lanka to unprecedented levels of sufferings. The inability of the government to ensure the uninterrupted supply of essential public goods at affordable prices due to mismanagement of the financial reserves and the implications of short-sighted policies, has led the country to a grinding halt.

Crux Of The Crisis

Foreign Exchange Crisis: The annual total foreign exchange earnings of Sri Lanka is about US$ 15bn. as against total Import expenditure of about US$ 20bn, resulting a negative trade balance of US$ 5bn. The total foreign debt is about US$ 51.7bn. (as of first quarter of 2022). During this year alone, we are obligated to make about US$ 4bn. loan installments including US$ 1bn. International Sovereign Bonds – maturing in next July, whereas the total foreign reserves stood at paltry US$ 1.93bn. at the end of March this year. This is the crux of the whole issue of present-day Dollar Crisis. Even in 2021, where the country was in deep socio-economic turmoil due to restricted inflow of foreign income, the imports cost was US$ 22bn. as against US$ 11bn. export income.

Daily Income Expenditure Deficit: The daily income of the country is about Rs. 5bn., against a Rs. 7bn. expenditure (Exchange Rate against the US Dollar was $1: Rs.322 as of April 9th, 2022). Further, huge tax benefits granted to facilitate its cronies and changed arbitrarily the existed tax regime immediately after came into the office by this government. This has resulted a loss of about 25% of annual income to the state coffers and exempted about 35% from the regular Tax Net.

 Hence, the incompetence of the government to fix the foreign trade deficit of US$ 5bn. and day to day income-expenditure deficit of Rs. 2bn. has been the root cause of the current socio-economic and political crisis, and to falling into a debt-tarp and losing its credibility and the legitimacy both locally and internationally.

Blunders, Scams and Policy Lurches: The widespread corruption, waste of public funds, foreign trade scams by the cronies and compulsion to repay foreign loan instalments have paved the way for current crisis. Arrogant rejection of expert opinions by the authorities led the country into multiple crisis in almost every field, bringing indefinable suffering to the people.

The Covid -19 Pandemic induced negative impacts made the things more difficult for the country due to its management blunders and corruptions. As a result, Sri Lanka was ranked at No. 4th place among the worst-performing countries in the world during the Pandemic. Its adverse impact on the tourism, exporting industries as well as the foreign remittances was very harsh for the local economy.

Moreover, the ridiculous, non-scientific, and imprudent policy interventions by the government to stop usage of agrochemicals and fertilizer in all sectors of agriculture including the Tea Industry in the guise of promoting organic agriculture had led to a catastrophic consequence on the production. The incomes of the Tea sector drastically reduced. A country which is almost self-sufficient in rice production for decades compelled to feed the market with imported rice due to the loss of paddy production by over 50% in the last season. This situation has created a colossal threat to the livelihoods of millions of farmer families and the food security of the country. The scams involved in importing bio-fertilizer from India and China enabled the politicians and their cronies to siphoned-off billions of rupees, wasting scares foreign exchange for nothing at a time of a crisis.

Down Grading of International Ratings: Instead of addressing the core issues, the government’s key strategy was to release trillions of printed Rupees to the market while artificially holding on the Dollar Rate. All these have further attributed escalation of inflation in parallel to the de-valuation of Rupee against foreign currencies in the face of continuous downgrading of financial rating of Sri Lanka by the international agencies. Sri Lanka almost reached to the level of bankruptcy and there is an imminent danger for the continued existence of local banking system, mainly due to lack of foreign currency reserves, as a result of faulty policy advocacy of the Central Bank.

Under these circumstances incumbent government of Sri Lanka has totally lost its CREDIBILITY as well as the LEGITIMACY both locally and internationally. Unless President and his Government resign enabling to create an interim way-out strategy as proposed herein; dropping Sri Lanka from the position of a “Failed State” to a “Bankrupt State” is inevitable, within next 2 to 3 months.

Apolitical Rising Of People

The entire citizenry of the country took on to the streets irrespective of cast and their race, religion, and creed, representing all the social strata sans any difference to voice against the incumbent president and his government. The climax of this apolitical movement of the Sri Lankans was seen on the 31 March 2022, where thousands of normal unorganized citizens protested near the residence of the president at Mirihana. It was harshly suppressed but erupted as a collective agitation of millions of apolitical masses all over the country with its epicenter at the Galle Face Green. Hence, it is justifiable to name this people upsurge as “March 31st Movement “, as it is the day it was really triggered-off into a national movement.

Volatile Political Scenario

The existing political situation of the country is becoming extremely volatile and reaching at an open-ended crossroads. In the eyes of the general public, the credibility of political parties and their 225 members representing the parliament is becoming obsolete. Because it seems that they do not have a tangible agenda in hand to pursue in an eventuality where the government is suddenly collapsed. Whether they have the capacity to grasp the message of the agitating masses who are on the streets at this moment is also doubtful. These circumstances may effortlessly lead to an anarchic situation within the country and perhaps would pave the way for a “Coup d’état” by the Military, sometimes with the blessings of some power-hungry politicians, which would be the worst-case scenario for Sri Lanka.

Need For A System Change

 It is the current system that matters. Rulers can come and go but, unless the system is replaced, nothing will change for the betterment of the country. Hence, it needs to identify a way-out strategy to address the prevailing deficits in democratic and responsive governance through adopting a radical but amicable systemic change by all the 225-parliamentarians. In this context, a time bound participatory approach is necessary to salvage the country from the current turmoil situation. All in all, the existing socio-political situation has created a unique opportunity to make “A PARADIGM SHIFT THROUGH A COMPLETE SYSTEMIC CHANGE” either by adopting a New Constitution or by adequately amending it to build a Sri Lankan Nation with the blessings of all the citizens. However, it is unlikely to happen, unless there is a conscious effort by the 225-parlimentarians, together.

Characteristics Of The Multifaceted Crisis

 The current multifaceted crisis of Sri Lanka revolves around four cardinal issues:

  • Lack of liquid foreign currency.
  • Lack of knowledge and the management skills with the incumbent government to Understand and deal with the critical issues.
  • Loss of credibility of the president and the government,
  • Lack of public confidence and belief in the power-hungry mainstream political parties in the parliament.

Objective

The key Objective of this proposal is to offer an amicable “Timebound Exit Strategy” to come out collectively from the current political turmoil within the framework of existing constitutional construct, while preventing the country from falling into an open-ended “anarchic situation”.

Crisis Management Solutions

 Political Actions: Whereas the 225-Parliamentarians shall Agree to;

  • Adopt the “Exit Strategy from the Crisis” by the 225-parliamentarians to form a consensus driven time-bound interim government to overcome the situation.
  • Appoint a New President by the Parliament.
  • Appoint a New Prime Minister from among the incumbent opposition MPs by the Parliament.
  • Establish a Leadership Council consisting of political party leaders representing in Parliament with a view to provide advice, guidance, and policy directions to the Prime Minister.
  • Commit all political parties in the Parliament to create 20 National List MP slots by way of removing such incumbent MPs, enabling new persons from outside (professionals recommended by the Leadership Council or External Advisory Council or both) to enter the Parliament.
  • Appoint a 20-member Cabinet of Ministers consisted mainly of external apolitical professionals coming in through the National Lists of the political parties of the legislature, including some few eligible elected parliamentarians with highest professional integrity, integrity, if deemed necessary.
  • Establish an External Advisory Council consisting of professionals and experts with proven track record, and professional representatives from the “March 31st Movement” with a view to provide advice, guidance, and policy direction inputs to the Leadership Council and to the Ministries.
  • Provision of urgent assistance package to the needy segments of our population as an interim timebound arrangement to bring relief to the grieving masses.
  • Repeal the 20-A amendment to the Constitution and reinstate the 19th as appropriate by way of enacting a 21st
  • Act to abolish the Executive Presidential system and to restore the powers of powers of the Parliament and if necessary to introduce a New Constitution.
  • Enable Independent Commissions and Establish the National Planning Commission.
  • Implement strict and effective checks and balances in respect of every sector through Parliament and other Institutions upon receipt of recommendations from the External Advisory Council.

Administrative Actions 

1. Dissolve the Director Boards of the Badly Performing and Lossmaking Institutions such as Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Petroleum Corporation, “Litro Gas” Company, CWE (Sathosa), Fertilizer Corporation, Pharmaceutical Corporation, Lotteries Board, Sri Lankan Airlines, Airport Aviation Authority, CTB, Bureau of Sri Lanka Standards, Public utilities Commission, and other relevant critical institutions, all Public Corporations, Statutory Institutions and State-Owned Companies managed by political appointees including the “Selendiva” Company (especially created in 2020 for selling prime National Assets to Foreigners and Cronies of the Government) that are responsible for the present predicament, mismanagement, corruption, and misappropriation of funds, with immediate effect.

a) Appoint fresh set of directors from among the eminent persons with proven track records.

b) Remove all the ex-military officers from regular civil administration positions that are generally meant for the SLAS administration.

c) Change the Monitory Board of the Central Bank and initiate an inquiry about its activities during the tenure of the previous Governor.

d) Scrutinize the activities of the all the above institutions in order to identify the reasons to the present crisis and to correct them (If there are good proposals those may be effectuated as per their practicality).

e) Impound the passports of the removed officials with allegation of corruption and mismanagement, and initiate investigations against such persons with immediate effect (Ex. Central Bank, Litro Gas Co., CPC, Pharmaceutical Corporation, Colombo Stock Exchange etc.).

2. Recall all idling Sri Lankan Diplomats and High Commissioners, especially the political appointees to replace with a vibrant team to carry out the given tasks.

3. Give time specific tasks to every head of institutions and monitor their delivery.

4. Run a Lean Government, whereby:

a) Reduce perks of all ministers and the parliamentarians by 75%.

b) Limit security guards for the Head of State, Prime Minister to 10 personnel and maximum of 3 escort vehicles, each,

c) Ministers and all other parliamentarians including the Speaker be entitled only for 2 security guards and 1 escort vehicle, each.

d) Salaries of the personal staff of politicians shall not be borne by the Public Funds, appropriate number of staff to assist them shall be seconded through the Ministry of Public administration on the basis of 7 persons to President and 10 persons to Prime Minister, and 5 persons each to a Minister and 2 persons for each parliamentarian including the Speaker.

e) Restrict strictly the misuse of public funds by elected representatives for political propaganda and image boosting while prohibiting display of photographs of politicians, posters etc. of any level in public offices.

f) Make the “Declaration of Assets” mandatory by all the Parliamentarians, New Appointees to Head of the Institutions and Director Boards and the Senior Public Servants, including the Judiciary, and the Armed Services and Police.

g) People’s right to work with the Government in a language of their preference (Sinhala, Tamil, or English) be ensured by all the State institutions.

h) Abolish the pension system applied for all the elected members.

i) Stop allocation of public funds directly to the elected members (parliamentary, provincial councils and local governments) and instead allocate funds for the respective agencies to implement development programmes

5. No Person who is convicted with criminal charges but acquitted by the Courts through political patronage or by a Presidential Pardon shall be employed in the public sector.

6. Display all ministerial activities in respective websites, promptly updated in all 3 languages.

7. Display ministerial and all elected members expenditure through government web site.

8. Promote new pro-market oriented industrial policy with a sound regulatory framework, instead of being State focused.

9. Reinforce regulations to protect local agricultural producers and the consumers from the adverse impacts of Free Trade.

10. Impose strict regulations to monitor the quality of imported products. Ex. food, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, medicinal supplies and items, electric, & electronic items, automobile vehicles, cloths, toys etc.

11. Establish easy to do business climate, ensure public accountability.

12. Convert the Presidential Palaces located in several Cities into tourist hotels, enabling to generate much needed revenue for the State coffers while saving billions of Rupees incurring as maintenance cost

Relief To The People Actions

Confidence and Credibility Building Actions;

1. Enable Central Bank of Sri Lanka to be an independent apolitical authority.

2. Suspend temporally the Sri Lanka’s obligated external debt payments due in next few months (US$ 4bn.) to settle later by reaching an understanding with the creditors. This is essential to preserve dwindling foreign exchange reserves to import essential goods for the sustenance of public life such as, fuel, gas, medicine, milk powder, food etc.

3. Renew friendly and cordial international relationships on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocal benefit with India, Japan, China, UK, European Union countries, Australia, USA, Russia, Middle Eastern countries, and all other countries, where all its diplomatic missions will be managed by the competent professionals with the guidance of career diplomats.

4. Mobilize a rapid acceleration programme to uplift the Sri Lanka’s credibility among the International Community, whereas:

a) The Multilateral Agencies (IMF, World Bank, Asian Development Bank etc.),

b) The Bilateral Connections with Sri Lanka (India, China, Japan, UK, USA, European Union, Russia, Countries in the Middle East, Countries of the SAARC, Australia etc.),

c) The International Agencies (UN Agencies, WHO, FAO, WFP, OXFAM, USAID, Swedish SIDA, GTZ – Germany, JAICA – Japan, KOIKA – South Korea, Saudi Development Fund, CIDA Canada etc.),

d) Sri Lankan Diaspora of over 3 million living mainly in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and etc., and

e) Sri Lankan migrant worker community, especially in the Middle East, who regularly used to remit over US$ 7bn. per annum. All the above-mentioned parties are to be approached by way of presenting our revival plan in order to boost their confidence in us and to build the credibility of the Government, through our diplomatic missions abroad – that are idling right now and the relevant state agencies to win the challenge collectively.

5. Initiate immediate negotiations with multilateral/bilateral/international agencies to obtain a Grants, Assistances or Soft Loans to bring relief to suffering masses while giving high priority to ensure food security against the impending food crisis, ensure uninterrupted energy supply and to address the acute medical drugs shortage.

6. Authorize Private Sector Foreign Exchange Earning Companies to form Consortia/s to import a) Petrol and Diesel, b) Medicine, and c) Gas to Sri Lanka as business ventures enabling to relieve the government from a burden of about US$ 3.5bn. However, it will not be possible under the current government due loss of its credibility among them and the international marketplace.

7. Direct import tax waver for some critical essential goods i.e., Rise, Medicine, Diesel, Petrol, Kerosine Oil etc. for 18-month period.

8. Negotiate with the IMF and WB for a bailout package with a sound National Recovery Plan in hand.

9. Negotiate with the creditors at a single forum for a moratorium or restructuring the loans submitting our National Recovery Plan.

10. Establish a Special Purse Vehicle (SPV) – dedicated window in overseas Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions to promote national reconciliation, Diaspora wellbeing and investments to Sri Lanka, as well as the welfare, protection, and inward remittance by the migrant community. The business opportunities and inward investment promotion including the Port City and tourism be given a top priority.

11. Establish a special agency in Colombo with branches in Jaffna and Kandy to facilitate the Sri Lankan Diaspora to invest in Sri Lanka and offer incentive package to the migrant Sri Lankans to send their remittances confidently.

12. Offer exclusive higher exchange rate for the foreign remittance and export earnings.

13. Probe into and implementing a mechanism to prevent huge, organized scams occurring at the Sri Lanka Customs, where the officers and big-time businessmen are jointly engaged in Tax Rackets incurring Billions of Rupees tax revenue to the State coffers.

14. Offer an incentive package for the tourism sector including hoteliers, smalltime operators, and all other related and dependent entrepreneurs.

15. Offer a special financial incentive package for the SME Sector with a single digit lending rate, preferably 6% for a period of 5 years, because this is the backbone of our economy.

16. Promote local exports by ensuring free flow of imported raw materials.

17. Replace the management of the Port City Project with better target-oriented set of reputed experts as the incumbent management has failed to attract any tangible investments to date.

18. Delay all the mega Infrastructure Projects for 2 Years, especially the road construction projects with mutual agreement with the foreign contractors to avoid lossmaking arbitrations.

19. Seek international assistance to confiscate hoarded money abroad by Politicians including in PANDORA Papers.

20. Take immediate action to increase availability of fertilizers at affordable prices to the farmers through bilateral negotiations.

21. Take immediate action to pay compensations to all farmers affected due to the government’s organic fertilizer policy lurch.

22. Implement a programme to ensure the wellbeing and protection of the Sri Lankan women who go for foreign employment and enforce law to regularize the agencies that breach their contracts.

23. Establish Facilitation Centres in major cities to coordinate, assist, empower and welfare of the women who migrate for employment as domestic aids mainly to the Middle East, and to facilitate those returnees from foreign employment.

24. Promote different project funding models such as Build, Operate & Transfer (BOT); Build, Own, Operate & Transfer (BOOT); Build, Own & Operate (BOO),, based on the merit of proposal and capabilities of agreeing parties where Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) or non-state sector funding are involved.

25. Stop entertaining of Unsolicited Project Proposals by the politicians, their cronies, and the public officials.

26. Encourage Sri Lankan investors to participate in projects in partnership with foreign collaborators/investors/developers/contractors.

27. Knock down barriers to free and fair trade.

28. Implement transparent, steadfast, and sound investment policy instead of sending investors from “pillar to post” making them vulnerable to the corruption by the public officials and politicians.

29. Establish finance management best practices to curtail public spending on maintaining a heavy political structure, Introducing new tax regime to bring relief to the lower social strata of the society, Increase government revenue base.

Tax Reforms

1. Cut government expenditures to lower people’s taxes with immediate effect.

2. Reinstated the former tax regime which was removed by the Government in 2019 taking a shock of losing 25% government of government revenue and exempted 35% of the Tax Net due to change of the taxable income levels.

3. Cut taxes for every working family and the average citizen.

4. Free the poor from tax burden and grant special tax concessions for the middle class.

5. Increase more tax credits for Non-state Sector investments.

6. Implement a system to encourage taxpayers by offering reward schemes including a tax loyalty cards for the Bona Fide clients.

7. Scrap all hidden Taxes including restructuring of income tax, excluding import duty, enabling:

a) Salaried people to bring home more money and thereby to increase their family’s purchase power,

b) Commodities to become cheaper substantially,

c) Prevention of tax evasion and no black money circulation,

d) Business sector to get boosted and generate more self-employment, and

e) Introduce new currencies and recall and banning high denomination currencies of Rs. 5,000 in the first round, and the other notes in the second round in systematic manner to surface the hoard money; and thereby to realize the following impacts on the economy:

Stop corruption through monitory transactions in large sums Ex. large amounts of through cash.

Vanish billions of high denomination currency notes such as Rs. of 5,000, hidden without use, and such will become simple valueless pieces of papers.

Put to halt immediately, the present trend of manipulation of the prices of properties, land, houses, jewelry, etc., due to unaccounted hidden huge cash, while the hard-earned money is losing its value.

Put a stop to possible kidnapping and killing for money and ransom including spending by the politicians to buy support of MPs and political parties.

Put to halt possible terrorism, extremism, booking politicians, public officials, wealthy entrepreneurs etc. for monetary ransoms.

Prevent buying high value property in cash showing very less registry prices.

Put to halt the circulation of “Fake Currency” as printing of fake currency for less value will not be viable.

Fix a Tax- free upper limit to cash transactions (Ex. Up to Rs. 350,000/=) within the country.

8. Allow all high value transactions (Ex. above Rs. 350,000/=) to be made only through banking system; like bank Cheque, Demand Draft (DD), Online and Electronic transferring with a view to realize the following:

* Generate greater revenues by the Government, as of today, Government can fetch very little tax income as very few percentage of earners are registered with the tax system.

* Fix Banking Transaction Tax (BTT) rate to be minimal so that it will boost again banking transaction many folds creating a “win – win” situation for more taxpayers and the Government.

* Redirect the institutions like income tax department to redress to monitor the effective implementation of the new tax policy as tax amounts will be directly deposited in the designated accounts immediately.

* The public will prefer to pay very lessor transaction tax amount instead of paying huge amount of multiple taxes; directly/indirectly.

* Get huge revenue by the government enabling to allocate more for the development, social welfare, education, health, and employment generation as there will be no tax evasion.

* Deliver an immediate cumulative impact by implementing a new single point tax policy through banking system (Banking Transaction Tax – BTT) only on Credit Amount. This will cause:

Come down prices of all goods and services.

Get more cash in hand by the salaried people.

Increase the purchasing power of the society.

Boost the demand for goods and services; will increase production and industrialization and thereby more employment opportunities for youth.

Create surplus revenue to the Government enabling effective allocation of funds for education, health. transport, infrastructure, and social welfare sectors.

Come down the interest rates on lending making cheaper and easy loans from banks.

Change the tendency of society from scarcity to bountifulness.

Spare money for political system for clean politics and good governance.

Come down the prices of land and property.

Ensure sufficient fund for research & development and knowledge building.

Free the society from racketeers of all sorts.

Implementation Mechanism

The political posture is very critical at this moment in finding an amicable short-term exit strategy to the present crisis. Hence, it is important to bridge the gap between the political culture and the people’s aspirations while set-aside all prejudices and egos of all concerned parties. The “Exit Strategy from the Crisis” has been articulated with a view to achieve an all-party (People & Politicians) agreement through its proposed implementation mechanism. This shall be attempted within the existing constitutional framework to fast-track stabilization of the country, collectively for a specific period of time (Ex. until the end of the time period of the incumbent parliament or for two years, whichever comes first).

It is proposed to accomplish certain mandatory roles by the key stakeholders. Whereas:

Role Of The Executive

The people of this country in general and the March 31st Movement in particular are of the opinion that the President is directly responsible for the current crisis in the country. Because he has amassed absolute powers through the “20-A” amendment to the constitution to control the Legislature and the Judiciary including the affairs that were under the preview of independent commissions, on his own. Thus, the March 31st Movement demanding the President to stepdown from his office and resignation of the government with immediate effect, while making all 225-Parliamentarians accountable to find an out of the box solution to defuse the crisis.

The CREDIBILITY of both the President and the Government has already been lost within and outside the country. Whereas the public expect to:

  • Resign the President from his office with immediate effect as it is the fundamental prerequisite to defuse the ongoing socio-political tension and enabling the parliament to appoint a new President.
  • Resign the Government enabling to form a new Interim Consensus Government by the 225-parlimentarians.

Role Of The Legislature

1. Whereas the 225-parlimentarians shall reach consensus to:

a) Move a No Confidence Motion against the Government by the opposition followed by a motion to impeach the President by a 2/3 majority (in an eventuality where the President and the government refusing to step down), depending on the success of the fist motion. At the same time, it is very appropriate to seek the international support to insert pressure on the incumbent regime to resolve the tension to save Sri Lanka. Otherwise, there is an imminent greater political, social, and economic calamity that could engulfed the country with outrage of intense public unrest driven anarchic situation.

b) Adopt the proposed “Exit Strategy from the Crisis” as the “Modus of Operandi”, subject to revisions without debasing from the spirit of it, if necessary. The 225-parliamentarians are expected to function as a one single house/group without any divisions such as the government and the opposition, in the manner they did it during the adoption of 1972 constitution.

c)  Establish an interim consensus government either in an eventuality of an invitation by the government or stepping down of it or wining a “No Confidence Motion” against it to prevent lawlessness and anarchic situation in the country as there is no possibility to go for a snap parliament election.

d) Appoint a new President from among the members of the Parliament, in the event of the Post of President become vacant.

e) Appoint a new Prime Minister from among its members.

f) Establish a “Leadership Council” consisting of the leaders of all the political parties representing the Parliament to provide moderated advice and to guide the Prime Minister.

g) Deny from accepting any ministerial posts in general, especially those who held such portfolios in the current government. But may consider on a case-by-case basis for a few MPs from among the parliamentarians, who are qualified and competent to hold a such a position as an exception.

h) Remove some of the National List MPs, enabling competent, apolitical, new outside members (professionals, not necessarily to be a political member) to enter the Parliament.

i) Appoint a maximum of 20-member Cabinet of Ministers consisted mainly of external apolitical professionals, head hunted by the Leadership Council and the Parliamentarians and invited into the Parliament through the National Lists of the political partis therein.

j) Agree to have “No Deputy Minister and State Minister Portfolios” in the Interim Consensus Government.

k) Establish an External Independent Advisory Council consisting of top professionals to give inputs to Cabinet of Ministers and to the Leadership Council as required.

2. Whereas the New Consensus Interim Government shall act to

a). Repeal the 20-A and reinstating the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in its original form (with necessary plus revisions). As per the legal experts, this can be accomplished with the consensus of the parliament by introducing the 21st amendment to the constitution with following features:

a.1). Restrained the powers of the Executive President without compromising the peoples sovereignty and without seeking for a referendum, with 2/3 majority in the parliament as per the provisions of the constitution. Accordingly:

President shall be the head of the State, Head of the Executive and Commander of the Armed Forces.

President shall be appointed by the Parliament.

President shall act on the advice of the Prime Minister except in the instances stated otherwise in the constitution.

Parliament shall be appointed on the basis of peoples franchise through an election.

Prime Minister, Ministers and their Deputies shall be members of the parliament.

Independent commissions that ware nullified by the 20-A amendment to the constitution shall be reinstated and further strengthened.

Independent commission of election constituted on the recommendations of the Constitutional Council shall be appointed to ensure free and fair elections.

Independent Commission on National Planning (This was there in the original draft of the 19th Amendment to the constitution, however dropped it unfortunately at the time of its adoption in 2015), shall be established.

Appointments to the independent commissions and to the high posts of the government shall be done through a national consensus of the parliament.

Right of the citizens to challenge and seek interpretation by the judiciary on the legitimacy of the acts of the government shall be guaranteed.

Right of the citizens to “Call Back” the representatives (MPs) that they have voted for and sent to the Parliament, in an eventuality of violating the franchise, shall be guaranteed.

Independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed.

3. Introduce the 22nd Amendment to the constitution with the consensus of 2/3 of the parliamentarians to abolish the Executive Presidential System and to restore the powers of Legislature.

4. Take an initiative to introduce a New Constitution, if deems necessary.

Act to Improve the:

  1. Legislative process.
  2. Improve effective oversight functions.
  3. Improve procedures for budgetary oversight and financial control.
  4. Improve the performance of all committees.
  5. Improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of parliamentary secretariat.
  6. Improve accountability of the government to Parliament.
  7. Regularize/ensure that aid is spent effectively, efficiently and with accountably.
  8. Improve and ensure the policies of the government that are for the benefit of the citizens.
  9. Enhance the capacity of parliamentarians and parliament secretariat.
  10. Amend the existing statutes to guarantee the full civil, social, and economic rights of the Woman, Children, Youth, and the marginalized communities such as differently abled persons, “Vaddah”, social groups discriminated by casts differences, people live in Islands, LGBTs, Sex Workers etc.

Role Of The Public Administration

  • Ensure an efficient, effective, ethical, professional and non-partisan Public Service.
  • Implement the Principles of Subsidiarity and Meritocracy to perform result oriented pro-people and pro-active administration.
  • Guarantee a better public service delivery by the state for everyone.
  • Implement special constitutional provisions to ensure the dignity and decorum of the public service and the freedom from undue political interferences shall be implemented through establishment of an independent Public Service Commission (PSC).
  • Ensure that all the key positions including Chairmen, Heads of Institutions in the public sector Statutory Boards, Corporations, Authorities, Departments members to the Independent Commissions and boards are appointed only through public advertisement and by calling for applications, followed by interviews based on meritocracy.
  • Recall all the political appointees to the Diplomatic Service of Sri Lanka with immediate effect and be replaced with a set of Ambassadors and High Commissioners with very high communication and professional skills to perform for the country.
  • Introduction of public charter for government institutions and obtain a pledge from the government officials
  • Introduction of reward management systems to government officials and officials who are attached to Embassies/ High Commissions in other soils.
  • Appoint an Independent Commission to oversee the appointment process to the High Posts and the Diplomatic Service.
  • Amend constitutional provisions, which empower the President and the Cabinet Ministers to appoint Secretaries to Ministries, other senior public officers, their transfers, disciplinary powers etc.
  • Enact a new legislation covering the entire public service entitled – “the Public Services Act”.
  • Implement rules for all public officials to comply strictly with the Right to Information Act.
  • Enforce laws to empower the public to seek protection of the law against the public officials who do not respond to their needs within a stipulated time period.
  • Comply strictly to submit the mandatory annual declaration of assets by all parliamentarians and public officials.
  • Ensure the public accountability by all politicians and officials by enabling an Independent Auditor General (AG).
  • Enable the Auditor General to assist Parliament effectively and efficiently to demand the accountability of the Executive.
  • Empower Bribery and Corruption Commission and Auditor General to probe into any person’s or institution’s assets which he/she holds someone else’s assets in their names locally or overseas.
  • Strengthen the Commission of Election to restrict Election Expenditure and stop displaying of ‘Cut-outs’ etc. totally. It is proposed:
    1. Introduce legislation to prevent excessive spending on election campaigns.
    2. Regulate campaign financing imposing spending limits on parties, individual candidates and even funding by third parties.
    3. Ensure that the existing election laws are implemented to the letter and prevent display of ‘Cut-outs’, posters, banners etc.,
    4. Enforce new legislation to strictly deal with offenders of election related crimes etc.,
  • Establish a mix member proportional representation system to select people’s representatives to all tiers of the government by amending the Election Law.
  • Implement policies for a resilient and sustainable economy built to last and to benefit everyone.
  • Introduce a system to restore the financial discipline in all sectors.
  • Implement policies and programmes to cut the budget deficit of the country by half over a period of 4 to 7 years.
  • Implement means and methods to reverse economic stagnation on an urgent priority basis.
  • Made accessible all Cabinet decisions to the Public for their study and scrutiny through the relevant websites (This too will also facilitate the e governance process in the country).
  • Establish a sound governance and rule of law to bring vast changes to the political system to salvage the country from being a “failed state” and attract home for our highly talented Sri Lankans who are domiciled overseas to serve the country.
  • Enforce laws in order to combat bribery and corruption at all levels of the public and local government services.
  • Take conscious efforts to create necessary space for social and political contestation by enshrined values that underscore justice, fair play, accountability, reconciliation, stability, and human rights.

Role Of The Judiciary

  • Grateful immensely by all Sri Lankans to the role played by the legal fraternity, especially the Lawyers who assisted the unlawfully arrested victims, and the Judges who did not succumbed to the pressures of the political authorities during the process of March 31st
  • Restore the independence of the Judiciary on an urgent priority basis.
  • Stop the wide-spread corruption in the judicial system to ensure fair trial to all who seek justice and from our Courts.
  • Implement stringent laws to stop money laundering,
  • Restore the Law and Order to apply equally for everyone.
  • Resume investigations on bribery and corruption along with implementation of anti-corruption and anti-waste reforms and prosecutions.
  • Quick reforms to restructure the judiciary to increase its efficiency and independency,
  • Revisiting all the court cases of the politicians that have been questionably closed on the request of the Attorney General’s department, which was fully politicized and brought disgrace to the system.
  • Probe into the Easter Sunday Bombing anew and bring the criminals to the book.
  • Probe into cases which were acquitted due to technical errors.
  • Trace and recover misappropriated public wealth.

Role Of The March 31st Movement

  • Continue its struggle of the March 31st Movement until its objectives and aspirations are met.
  • Vigil to be a non-violent, peaceful, apolitical movement without falling into the traps laid by the government and the politically motivated sections of the Armed Forces and the Polices. The Movement should be mindful to avoid succumbing to any deliberate provocations by the reactionary forces or any attempt to hijack this struggle by the extremist political, racial, and religious groups either sponsored by the incumbent government or operate as standalone cliques with self-motives, or any proxy organizations of the political parties.
  • Grateful immensely by the people of Sri Lanka to this movement especially to the youth for uniting all racially and religiously divided communities as an “One Sri Lankan Nation”, for the first time since our Independence. Hence it is the responsibility of all of us to continue this spirit of National Unity established by the March 31st Movement forever.
  • Reach consensus to accept the “Exit Strategy from the Crisis” as a viable short-term way-out option, while closely monitoring its implementation.
  • Provide readily its professional inputs into the governance and the constitution making process.
  • Involve actively in providing its professional inputs for the policy making process through the proposed “Independent Advisory Council”, consist of Sri Lankan experts (Local and outside) of deferent fields.
  • Monitor the performance of the consensus interim government.

 Role Of The Sri Lankan Diaspora

  • Involve actively in providing Sri Lankan Diaspora’s professional inputs for the policy making, investing in Sri Lanka for economic development, and sending foreign remittance for family wellbeing and social development of the country.
  • Create a special apparatus by the parliament through adoption of a new legislation to coordinate and facilitate diaspora inputs to develop the mother Land.
  • Play a pivotal role to coordinate, implement, monitor, and facilitate the diaspora (including removal of legal impediments and bureaucratic red tapes etc.), by the March 31st Movement, professional organizations and the Advisory Council while assisting with local partnerships.
  • Involve pro-actively to promote and support the national reconciliation process.

Role Of The Police And The Security Forces

  • Abide by their oath not to protect politicians but the constitution and the people’s freedoms and protection by the Police and the Armed Forces.
  • Defend the peoples sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the social order of the country.
  • Refrain from succumbing to political pressures while maintaining the law and order independently and professionally sans any prejudices.
  • Crack down on underworld and drugs and narcotics gangs on topmost priority basis.
  • Enforce Drugs and tobacco policy strictly.
  • Eliminate drugs and narcotic related offences with enforcement of stringent laws.
  • Enforce laws to Free the country from the clutches of organized groups of paranoid political elites belonging to all communities.

Summing-Up

Upon the acceptance of the “Exit Strategy from the Crisis”, the wayout actions herein shall be implemented immediately or as fast as practically feasible to end both the Political and Economic crisis, enabling a paradigm shift in Sri Lanka. Steps should be mandatorily taken to ensure that all the necessary institutional arrangements are in place, areas with shortcomings rectified, adequate checks and balances assured, necessary amendments to the laws are passed and a system which will be able to function on its own is enabled to transform the aspirations of the March 31st Movement into a ground reality.

Ones the tasks of the exit strategy are completed by the Consensus Interim Government, the Parliament could be dissolved and call for fresh elections. By that time the required strategies would have been implemented. In this election which will be held under the amended laws and other institutional remedial measures taken against systemic pitfalls, we will not see the corrupt, but people who are able being elected as representatives. This will bring an era of peace, harmony, and prosperity of the New Sri Lanka Nation.

Solvency Of The Agenda For Shared Revival Of Sri Lanka

  1. All the political parties and their 225-parliamentarians and the civil society that led by the March 31st Movement shall agree to this short-term exit mechanism as a viable approach to address current political and socio-economic issues. It will lessen the ongoing “Political Cult vs. Peoples Aspirations” confrontation and enable a gradual transition towards a stable Sri Lanka within a short period.
  2. Let us make a systemic change enabling a paradigm shift in Sri lanka through successful implementation of this exit strategy. We will be able to leave behind a nation where our progeny can happily live sans corruption, nepotism, racism but filled with the feeling of One Nation and One Citizenry.
  3. Finally, it should be reiterated that the policies and actions proposed herein should be translate into Management Interventions with Specific Goals, Objectives, Targets, Key Activities, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Assumptions, Responsibilities and Time- Frames for the achievement of the respective targets. This task can be undertaken by a team of professionals, once the consensus is being reached among all stakeholders to adopt this proposal and incorporating the amendments to it, if any.

Long Live The Sri Lankan Nation!

Dedication

Many thoughts that have been discoursed with my colleagues during the past few years as well as some of the ideas circulated through electronic and social media in the recent months were immensely useful for me in compilation of this document. I dedicate this document to all those likeminded people, those who are struggling to free our Mother Land all over the country, especially those Wonderful Youth who are spearheading the agitations at this moment out there in Galle Face Green under appalling conditions, risking their lives, and aspiring to make a Better New Sri Lanka for all of us and the future generations to live in peace, harmony, and happiness as an “One SRI LANKAN Nation”.

*Krishan Deheragoda, Emeritus Professor at University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Sri lanka.

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    Hear! Hear! This is it to march forward. But I THINK THE PERKS OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT SHOULD BE PRUNED FURTHER!. No subsidized food and other perks which they enjoy on the Tax payers account……………….,

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