Good Governance activist, Chandra Jayaratne has urged President Maithripala Sirisena to introduce a ministerial code of conduct, which should apply to all ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers.
In a letter addressed to Sirisena, Jayaratne also said; “In addition, kindly consider requiring all persons holding Ministerial Office (including Deputy Ministers and State Ministers), to make the following declarations annually, which are to be tabled and noted by the Cabinet and transparently published in the Cabinet Office web site;
1. Declaration that the Ministers are “Fit & Proper Persons”; and have discharged their duties in compliance with the Ministerial Code of Conduct; and that their conduct have not been impacted by any conflicts of interests or related party contractual interests, in the course of functioning and performing duties as a Minister.
2. Declaration of Interests and Related Party Interests – some examples of such declarations made in 2015 by Ministers of the UK government are attached” the letter stated.
The full text of the letter is below;
27th June 2016
President Maithripala Sirisena,
President of Sri Lanka,
Dear Mr. President,
Ministerial Code of Conduct – Declaration and Avoidance of Conflicts of Interests
I write to You, in your capacity as the head of the Cabinet of Ministers -Article 42 (3), and appeal that You introduce, as a significantly important step in the assurance of Yahapalanaya (Good Governance), a Ministerial Code of Conduct, to apply to all persons holding Ministerial ranks in the Government ( including Deputy Ministers and State Ministers).
In addition, kindly consider requiring all persons holding Ministerial Office (including Deputy Ministers and State Ministers), to make the following declarations annually, which are to be tabled and noted by the Cabinet and transparently published in the Cabinet Office web site;
- Declaration that the Ministers are “Fit & Proper Persons”; and have discharged their duties in compliance with the Ministerial Code of Conduct; and that their conduct have not been impacted by any conflicts of interests or related party contractual interests, in the course of functioning and performing duties as a Minister.
- Declaration of Interests and Related Party Interests – some examples of such declarations made in 2015 by Ministers of the UK government are attached.
It is further requested that You require, the Civil Society representatives of the Constitutional Council, to collectively engage in the capacity as advisors to the Cabinet, and publish an annual report on the effectiveness of upholding the Ministerial Code in General by the Cabinet Collectively and in specific an examination and report on the integrity and effectiveness of each of the holders of Ministerial rank, in managing their commitments under the Code, including the due avoidance of conflicts of interests and related party benefits, whilst functioning as a minister. A copy of the Annual Report of the Independent Adviser on Ministers Interests in the UK is also annexed.
I enclose a copy of the Ministerial Code of Conduct applicable in the United Kingdom, and wqqish draw your kind attention to the following important aspects worthy of emulation by the Yahapalanaya Government:
1. The Foreword by the Prime Minister of UK stating that;
- “This Government was elected with a clear set of instructions from the British people. To back working people. To deliver security at every stage of their lives. To build not just a stronger economy, but a stronger society, too. And to govern for one nation:
- People didn’t just tell us what to do, but how to go about it. They want their politicians to uphold the highest standards of propriety. That means being transparent in all we do. It means rooting out any form of misconduct. It means spending every pound carefully -because it’s not our money; it’s taxpayers’ money.
- This is good government. And it is precious. Around the world, Parliaments have copied the Westminster system. But they also want to copy the way we conduct our politics, because they see that transparency and openness go hand in hand with progress and prosperity.
- So in every decision we take, every speech we make, every policy we formulate, we must keep in mind, who put us here and why. If we remember that, if we carry out our duty with the utmost integrity, then together we can make our vision a reality: and make Great Britain greater still.”
2. The under noted points extracted from the Ministerial Code duly adapted will serve the interests of advancing Yahapalanaya;
- Ministers of the Crown are expected to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety
- The principle of collective responsibility requires that Ministers should be able to express their views frankly in the expectation that they can argue freely in private while maintaining a united front when decisions have been reached. This in turn requires that the privacy of opinions expressed in Cabinet and Ministerial Committees, including in correspondence, should be maintained.
- Civil service appointments must be made in accordance with the requirements of the
- Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 Ministerial involvement in such appointments is set out in the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. Public
- appointments should be made in accordance with the requirements of the law and, where appropriate, the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
- Ministers have a duty to ensure that influence over civil service and public appointments is not abused for partisan purposes.
- Ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the Civil Service, and not ask civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the Civil Service Code and the requirements of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.
- Ministers are provided with facilities at Government expense to enable them to carry out their official duties. These facilities should not generally be used for Party or constituency
- Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise,
- between their public duties and their private interests, financial or otherwise.
- Official facilities paid for out of public funds should be used for Government publicity and
- advertising but may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political. The conventions governing the work of the Government Communication Service
- are set out in the Government Communication Service’s Propriety Guidance – Guidance on Government Communications.
- When Parliament is in session, the most important announcements of Government policy should be made in the first instance, in Parliament.
- Ministers must ensure that they always make efficient and cost – effective travel arrangements. Official transport should not normally be used for travel arrangements arising from Party or private business, except where this is justified on security grounds.
3. The Seven Principles of Public Life – Annex A- that must be a part of the Core Values and Behaviours of Ministers;
I remain confident that the above appeal will receive the early review, discussion and effective implementation by the Cabinet led by you, thus reassuring the voters who were moved by the commitment and promise of delivery of Yahapalanaya under the Government led by you that the governance regime hoped for has truly been delivered by You .
cc. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe,
Speaker of Parliament – For Transmission to Members of the
· Constitutional Council;
· Parliamentary Committee drafting the new Constitution;
· Parliamentary Privileges Committee;
· Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committee;
Leader of the Opposition,
Secretary to the Cabinet,- For Transmission to Members of the Cabinet