Colombo Telegraph

Chandra Jayaratne Wants Eran To Practice What He Preaches

Good governance activist, Chandra Jayaratne has called on Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development, Eran Wickramaratne to practice what he preaches. In an open letter, Jayaratne recalling the deputy minister’s recent statement that the Government is open to discuss suggestions; and following such submissions ready to take reform action, congratulated the deputy minister on his announcement and reiterated that this was the ‘fervent expectations’ of the citizens who voted in the Yahapalanaya Government.

Chandra Jayaratne

The letter dated on December 25 said that the civil society implores that the deputy minister take steps to review several suggestions and take timely positive governance based reform action with transparency, abiding by the aforesaid principles committed to by the government in its 2015 election manifestos.

Jayaratne also called on Wickramaratne to establish a parallel Court System dedicated to hear corruption related cases.

The good governance activist highlighted seven areas, which he urged the deputy minister to review, they were;

1. Review and publicly debate the presumptive three alternative scenarios of governance open to the government, as articulated recently by Dr. Razeen Sally( refer article attached )and take timely reform action to assure a future filled with peace, ethno religious harmony and sustainable macro economic growth and stability, whereby citizens can enjoy the benefits of equity, inclusiveness and prosperity, as residents of this independent non aligned nation.

2. In the context of recently reported incidents and unacceptable public announcements by some members of the government and some leading members of the Executive, take immediate steps to uphold the freedom of expression and the right to information of citizens, facilitated by effectively activated and duly empowered independent public institutions especially set up for that purpose. As a priority inform the public of any pending challenges in the power sector.

3. As a follow up to the process of selection by the Constitutional Council of designated public officials and members of public institutions, either expand the scope and terms of reference of the said Constitutional Council or establish an adjunct body with independence and capability to select other key high office holders including but not limited to the following;

a. All Secretaries of Ministries
b. All Chief Accounting Officers
c. All Heads of Departments
d. The Governor and members of the Monetary Board
e. The Heads of and the Senior Deputies of the Armed Forces and the Police
f. The Chairpersons and members of all Regulatory bodies and Institutions
g. All persons appointed as Ambassadors and High Commissioners
h. All persons appointed to represent Sri Lanka in International bodies including the bodies administered by United Nations, International Financial Institutions etc
i. Chair persons and Council Members of Universities, Vocational Educations Institutions, and Research Institutions
j. Chairpersons and members of State Banks and Banks Controlled by the State
k. Chairpersons and members of the Boards of State Corporations and State Owned Enterprises
l. Members of all Commissions of Inquiry and Advisory Committees appointed for Policy Development, Policy Implementation Oversight and Policy Reforms

4. Take urgent steps to expand the scope, coverage and accountability of the Code of Best Practice in Corporate Governance for State Owned Public Enterprises ( reference ) incorporating new/revised provisions suggested in the attached schedule.

5. Establish parallel Court Systems dedicated to hear corruption related cases, with daily hearings to a finish, operating on a two shift basis (9 a.m.- 1.30 p.m. and 2.30 7 p.m.) facilitated by electronic interfaces and communications, where evidence, network facilitations and witness connectivity will be enabled via remote access information communications technology options – Refer an Indian example:

6. In order to provide a conducive environment to progress on a timely basis, the cases covering serious financial and other crimes currently pending successful judicial proceedings resulting in the optimal recovery of proceeds of crime, introduce an incentive scheme, whereby a percentage of proceeds of crimes and fines collected (say 20%) is pooled to be distributed to improve the infrastructure facilities, capability of human resources, and welfare as well as a special performance bonuses of those public servants engaged in investigations, prosecution and allied services.

7. In the context of reported serious flaws, lack of transparency, purported cronyism and other controversies surrounding mega tender awards under the Yahapalanaya Government, take urgent steps to establish a high level Policy Review Committee ( comprising of independent, capable persons with a track record of achievement and unquestioned integrity) to review and revise the processes and procedures governing the award of tenders connected with state and state enterprises, covering all mega projects and significant spends exceeding Rs one Billion, with the aim of strengthening the transparency, controls, compliances and adoption of international best practices, assuring sustainable socio-economic benefits to Sri Lanka and its citizens and optimum return on such investments.

The processes to be reviewed by the Committee to, include tenders awarded via:

1. International /Local Open Bid Invitations to Tender
2. Tenders requiring Long term local or foreign financing
3. Requests for Proposals based Tenders
4. Long Term Supply Contract s based tenders
5. The Swiss Challenge Processes connected tenders
6. Bi-lateral or Multi-lateral aid/financing connected tenders
7. Technology transfers leveraging tenders and Others

“It is recommended that the stakeholders of society, including chambers of commerce and industry, policy development and good governance focused institutions, academia, professionals and independent civil society activists, be consulted and engaged in the above process. It is the sincere hope of the civil society that the above suggestions will receive your early attention and will lead to transparent engagement and reform action facilitated by you,” Jayaratne added in his letter.

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