Discussion Paper on Constitutional Reforms – The following are the main proposals for constitutional reforms under discussion;
The President will be the Head of State, the Head of the Executive and the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The President shall always, except in the case of the appointment of the Prime Minister or as otherwise required by the Constitution, act on the advice of the Prime Minister or of such other Minister as has been authorized by the Prime Minister. The President may require the Prime Minister and such Minister to reconsider advice given to him and may require Parliament to reconsider a Bill presented to him for assent. He shall act on advice given after reconsideration and shall give assent to a Bill passed after reconsideration.
In addition to the powers and duties presently exercised under Article 33, the President shall promote national reconciliation and integration, ensure and facilitate the preservation of religious and ethnic harmony and ensure and facilitate the proper functioning of the Constitutional Council and the independent Commissions.
Presidential immunity does not extend to acts or omissions of the President in his official capacity. The Speaker/Chair of the Council of State shall act for the President.
The term of office of the President shall be 5 years. Mode of election of the President will not be changed. This will be a matter for the next Parliament. The President may be removed by passing a no-confidence motion with a 2/3 majority. Present impeachment provisions will be deleted.
Prime Minister and Cabinet of Ministers
The Prime Minister will be the Head of the Government. The President shall appoint as Prime Minister the Member of Parliament, who, in his opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of Parliament. The President may also appoint a Deputy Prime Minister on the advice of the Prime Minister.
The number of Ministers shall not exceed 30. The total number of Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers shall not exceed 40. Where the parties with the highest and second highest number of seats agree to take part in a Government of National Unity, Parliament may be resolution increase the above mentioned numbers to not more than 45 and 55 respectively for the duration of the Government of National Unity. This will be applicable to the next Parliament only.
Special provisions relating to the present President
During the term of office of the present President, the subjects of defence, Mahaweli development and environment shall be assigned to him. (Provisions similar to present Article 44 (2)). In arriving at any decision or policy pertaining to the subjects and functions assigned to himself, the President may summon meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers and preside at such meetings.
The term of Parliament shall be 05 years. Parliament may be dissolved during the first 4 years and 6 months only upon a resolution to that effect being passed by a 2/3 majority.
Constitutional Council and Independent Commissions
Provisions relating to the Constitutional Council (CC) and independent institutions, repealed by the 18th Amendment, will be reinstated subject to certain changes. The composition of the CC is unchanged except that the 05 persons to be nominated by the PM and Leader of Opposition after consulting leaders of political parties and independent groups shall reflect the pluralist character of Sri Lanka, including professional and social diversity, and that the professional expertise of the nominees will be taken into consideration. Changes will be made to overcome difficulties experienced in the past – members deemed to be appointed if President does not appoint following nominations, quorum, CC may function despite vacancies etc.
The Audit Service Commission and the National Procurement Commission are added to the list of independent institutions. The CC shall obtain the views of the Chief Justice, the Minister of Justice, the Attorney-General and the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka when considering appointments to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
National Police Commission: IGP shall be entitled to be present at and participate in meetings except at any meeting where any matter pertaining to him is discussed. Where the Commission has delegated its powers to any Police Officer, the IGP may appeal to the Commission against any order made by such Police officer in the exercise of such delegated powers.
Council of State
The functions of the Council shall be to make recommendations to the President and the Cabinet of Ministers on the implementation of matters contained in the Statement of Government Policy, the adherence to the principles of good governance by all organs of government, Bills immediately upon their publication in the Gazette, proposals for legislation as may be referred by the Cabinet of Ministers and matters of public importance referred to it by the President.
Composition: 35 members appointed jointly by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition with the approval of the Constitutional Council and Chief Ministers. 20 seats shall be apportioned amongst the recognized political parties and independent groups represented in Parliament, in proportion to their representation in Parliament. A political party or independent group not being represented shall be entitled 01 seat. The leaders of the recognized political parties or independent groups to which seats are so apportioned shall be entitled to appoint members to fill such seats. All appointees shall be persons of integrity who have achieved distinction in their respective professions or vocations.
Chairman and Vice Chairman shall be appointed by the President.
There shall be a Consultative Committee for every Ministry. The meetings of the following Committees shall be open to the public: Select Committees, Consultative Committees, Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Public Enterprises and Committee on Public Petitions. The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee and of the Committee on Public Enterprises shall be an MP nominated by the Leader of the Opposition.
Bills shall be published in the Gazette 14 days before the first reading. Bills will be certified by the President. There will be no urgent Bills.
Auditor General and Audit Service Commission
The Audit Service Commission shall consist of the Auditor General, two senior retired audit officers who were served in the post of Deputy Auditor General or above and two retired officers who have distinguished themselves in the fields of auditing, accountancy, law, economics or public administration and who have had over fifteen years experience in a senior executive post in the public service, appointed by the President, on the recommendations of the Constitutional Council.
|The functions of the Commission shall be to:|
The Auditor General shall audit all Ministries and Government Department; Offices, institutions and Commissions receiving appropriations made by Parliament; Provincial Councils, Local Authorities and Public Corporations; business or other undertakings vested in the Government by or under any written law; any body or authority established by or under any written law with public resources provided wholly or partly and whether directly or indirectly, by the Government; companies in which any such body or authority is holding not less than forty per centum of the shares of share capital; and companies in which any such body or authority is holding not less than forty per centum of the share capital.
“Audit” includes technical audits, environmental and value for money audits.
National Procurement Commission
The Commission shall consist of five members appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council, of whom at least three members shall be persons who have had proven experience in procurement, accountancy, law or public administration.
It shall be the function of the Commission to formulate fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost effective procedures and guidelines for the procurement of goods and services by all government institutions. The Commission shall also- (a) report on whether all procurement of goods and services by government institutions are based on procurement plans prepared in accordance with previously approved action plans; (b) report on whether all qualified bidders for the provision of goods and services to government institutions are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in the bidding process for the provision of those goods and services; (c) ensure that the procedures for the selection of contractors, and the awarding of contracts, for the provision of goods and services to government institutions are fair and transparent; (d) report on whether members of procurement Committees and Technical Evaluation Committees relating to high value procurements by government institutions are suitably qualified; and (e) investigate reports of procurements made by government institutions outside established procedures, and to report the officers responsible for such procurements to the relevant authorities for necessary action.
Right to Information
The right to information will be included as a fundamental right. This right will be subject to such restrictions prescribed by law as are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, privacy, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary. Parliament shall, by law, make provision to give effect to this right.
Date/s of operation
Provisions relating to the President and Cabinet of Ministers will come into force on April 22, 2015. All other provisions come into force on the date on which the 19th Amendment becomes law.
Transitional provisions: The members of the Public Service Commission, National Police Commission, Human Rights Commission, Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption and Finance Commission, shall cease to hold office on the date on which the 19th Amendment becomes law.
Special provisions relating to the period 22 April 2015 to the conclusion of the next General Election
The President shall preside over meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers. The President may, with the concurrence of the Prime Minister, assign to himself or herself any subject or function and may, with like concurrence, determine the Ministries to be in his or her charge. The President shall, on the advice of the Election Commission, ensure the creation of proper conditions for the conduct of a free and fair General Election of Members of Parliament.
Wickramasiri / February 9, 2015
Why are Electoral Reforms not mentioned here?
jayasingha / February 10, 2015
Yes, electoral reforms have been promised in the 100day program. This is a glaring omission.
Kumari Attanayake / February 9, 2015
Where can we obtain a more detailed copy? Need to know more about the Fundamental Rights provisions. Will the same rights as per the 78 constitution be included or will the scope of rights be broadened?
Also, will there be options for post-enactment judicial review of Acts passed by parliament?
justice / February 9, 2015
An Election Commission is a must, with powers to enforce election laws which should be enumerated, with penalties for violations.
A Committee on High Posts – for public and diplomatic service – is necessary.
Charles / February 9, 2015
The electoral reforms should include the first past the post system under which we could identify our representatives electorate wise.All future elections should be held under a caretaker government. It will be ideal if the Parliamentary and Presidential elections are held on the same day without giving any room for politicians to decide unless a government is defeated due to lack of majority.The concept of by elections to fill a vacancy in parliament should be re introduced as in the past as it will be a healthy democracy.
Hope the authorities will take the above into consideration.
HIran HAbin / February 9, 2015
TWO TERM LIMIT YOU MORONS. AND ALSO RESTRICT THE PRESIDENT HAVING FINANCE MINSTRY AND OTHERS.
Andy / February 10, 2015
70 or 100 ministers – how is this better than the Rajapaksa regime? Yet another broken promise. And why does Sirisena want the Mahaweli portfolio so much that it needs to be written into the constitution? I hope it’s not to allow his relatives to plunder the Mahaweli’s resources.
patriot / February 10, 2015
To amass wealth during his 5 year term and retire.
sarrij / February 10, 2015
1.Bill of rights is a must and this should be robust one Have a look at the Canadian bill of rights as a model. Of course adjustments could be made to suite the local political scene.
2.Effort must be made to prevent previous mistakes in the framing of constitutions by trying to accomplish things in a hurry ; a little more time spent, devoted to constructive debate and discussion is warrented.
manel fonseka / February 10, 2015
This is still far too many ministries. It is time we tried to elect people who are keen to “serve” rather than to BE served in political office. Politicians have become used to regarding the obtaining of office as a win in a sweepstake — for which the public pays out at higher and higher rates. I have been very disappointed in some of the younger politicians who seemed so promising and principled when engaged in the recent election campaign — I think of Sujeewa Senasinghe. His voiced discontent with the Deputy Ministership he was given shocked me. It certainly wasn’t what I expected from him. A man/woman should realize that there are just so many posts to go around and everyone cannot have what he wants.
His complaining, his disatisfaction, and Wijedasa’s readiness to implement the death penalty put quite a different complexion on these two at least.
Lanka Watch / February 11, 2015
What is the purpose of reducing the powers of the executive Presidency
by introducing constitutional reforms as same powers can be reinforced
by amendments by another President who gets 2/3 majority.These changes will apply only to President Sirisena for a period of five years,as he has confirmed, without giving a series thought,that he will not contest
the second term, giving the advantage to MR’s puppet to become the next
President and he will rule like what happened in Russia, with Putin running the country while they had an elected President. It is not too late for the current President to withdraw his statement and save the country from anarchy.
The way the things are moving, it is suspicious whether this govt. could finish the tasks they embarked on as there is evidence that underhand work going on to destabilize the govt. The current president himself is astonished with lack of interest taken by the intelligence authorities to produce the culprits in the corruption cases to the courts. This is a ploy to delay,to play for more time and former regime
presume,has a hand in it as they expect to return to power due weakness
shown by the current govt. and lack of control over govt. personnel in high places in the govt.to get them to do a sincere job of work. It looks like its a short lived happiness for the people.
White Flags / February 11, 2015
Like My3 and Ranil?
Why is Ranil running the country now? How “democratic” is that? People voted for My3 NOT Ranil.
If Ranil is great and capable why didn’t he contest the PE?
patriot / February 11, 2015
It seems both the UNP and SLFP leaders are attempting to look after their own welfare rather than the people of this country.
For instance, consider the following proposal put forward for constitutional reforms. “The number of Ministers shall not exceed 30. The total number of Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers shall not exceed 40. Where the parties with the highest and second highest number of seats agree to take part in a Government of National Unity, Parliament may be resolution increase the above mentioned numbers to not more than 45 and 55 respectively for the duration of the Government of National Unity”. If it is a single party government the total number of ministers is 70 and if it is a national government of UNP and SLFP, the total number is 100. One can not understand the logic behind this proposal. The questions that arise are: 1. Why can’t the number of ministers remain at 70 and distribute the 70 among the UNP and SLFP MPs in the ratio of the number of MPs in UNP and SLFP. Surely, the party with the higher number of seats will have to make a tiny sacrifice by going into a coalition. However, if these MPs are honourable people who do politics only to serve the people of the country they should not fuss about the sacrifices that they have to make. 2. Why can’t the party with the highest number of seats go into a coalition with a minority party(say JVP) and form a government in a similar fashion distributing the ministries as above. What is clear is that neither main UNPers nor SLFPers are sure of winning a majority and they are trying to make a constitution to suit both Ranil and Maithri’s parties.
If the present government does not deliver the goods, as promised, it is high time that the people need to change their attitudes towards the main parties and vote for the JVP or Sarath Fonseka’s party.
Jim softy / February 11, 2015
That constitutional reforms make the president a weakling.
It is better to abolish the president completely instead of having a president without a backbone or a president who does not have any power.
Jim softy / February 11, 2015
Wait and see Ranil wickramasinghe will bring back all the corrupt politicians who lost last time.
failed gong governance ( same old song) / February 12, 2015
Where is The lower Chamber? is this really East Minister ? or hora Minister system?
What a pathetic Cunt- try..
Hirunika / Muslims & Tamils (not the Indian stock, double crosser, estate lot who betrayed Ranga,,,-but Pure Ceylon Tamils sons of the soil ,North and east) Betrayed again, time to begin a political change , Hirunika, Ranjan Ramanayake, Azath Sally ,Sarath Fonseka & ppl with same sincerity must quickly grasp the hands of JVP and strengthen them and join the JVP for the next General election.
The Muslims have been betrayed by the present government,until the present government bring to books the BBS,Ravana and Ravaya-no need to trust them , because it seems they are been protected , even possible , they were set up by the present government to discredit Mahinda.
FAHIM KNIGHT / February 13, 2015
PORT-CITY MUST BE STOPPED AT ANY COST- EVEN IF THIS MEANS SOME OF US HAVE TO SACRIFICE OUR LIVES, WE OWE THIS TO THE FUTURE GENERATIONS TO COME OR THEY WILL CURSE US.
WHAT NONSENSE , WHOM ARE THESE PEOPLE TRYING TO FOOL ? WE HAVE CONTINUOUS LANDSLIDES, FLOODS , DROUGHTS ,OUR RIVERS AND GROUND WATER ARE POLLUTED, FARMERS CAN NOT CULTIVATE ANYMORE ,THEIR WATER RESERVES ARE DRIED UP.
Every project executed by the previous regime is a disaster, we did not vote in this government just defeat Mahinda , but to save our Motherland.
What shop are you talking? no impact on our environment,, whom are you trying to fool? even if every single granite hill is blasted to the last bit and every river is mined to beyond the river bedding it wont suffice to complete the construction of this utterly useless project, it will only destroy our environment totally.
First clean our ground waters stop or move that killer factory from waliveriya, give enough water to our farmers ,make our farmers the kings again , they are our fathers from who’s hands we are fed with.
Find solutions to stop the landslides, control the floods, housing for all peoples of this land, imporve and provide high standard public transport to all, eliminate poverty not by handouts (to keep the voter base) instead empower the people , give them dignity ,make them stand on their feet.
We did not vote Mahinda out ,just feed The China man (no offence) but our land ,our people matter , we have no intention to keep exporting our poor women abroad to work ,it has to stop too soon and we need an alternative.
We must do a one Million man march to Galleface to stop this project immediately.
FAHIM KNIGHT / February 13, 2015
Th entire down south stretch of the beach has been washed off and the rocks that were laid have been robbed by the population who have invaded the seashores and constructed illegal houses and used these to build some of their homes, these are more pressing issues , than trying to please China .
Let china allow an independent monitor selected by the opposition JVP to overseas and prove every single pebble is brought from overseas to construct this project before they go any-further.
We will never allow this project to get ahead, if they touch even one pebble of this Island
We need to inform their Greenpeace and get their support too.
FAHIM KNIGHT / February 13, 2015
Colombo Port City will be scrapped- Ranil Wickremsinghe …
english.readsrilanka.com › News › Political
Dec 17, 2014 – Read Sri Lanka | The most reliable news website in Sri Lanka. … Colombo Port City will be scrapped- Ranil Wickremsinghe …. David Cameron and Barack Obama promise to defeat the “distorted ideology” of terrorism, ahead …
commando695 / February 14, 2015
To remove the Chief Justice( appointed by the EP) you need an Impeachment Motion to be passed in Parliament.
To remove the Executive President(elected by the people)you need only a vote on a motion with a 2/3 majority of MP’s (who can be purchsed for a few bucks anyway).
Have we really gone nuts?
sumanasiri liyanage / February 15, 2015
This is the weakest document that has come up in the constitutional discourse in Sri Lanka from a reformist perspective. Just reintroducing 17th Amendment with small change in quorum requirements would have been a better proposal. The present document create executive president (elected) and executive prime minister (elected) and room for an incessant conflict between two. appointment of the PM, Deputy PM (useless position) and cabinet is problematic. More later….
Ranjan / February 18, 2015
Suggest the following is included:
1. Cognisant of the fact that you cannot get pure water from a brakish spring, nor good governance from criminals the following is enshrined int he Constitution:
No one with criminal charges pending or with a criminal conviction may stand for or be appointed to public offices such as ministers in the government, members of parliament, members or chairmen of public authorities, Boards, Corporations or Banks.
2. Cognisant of the fact that the provence of The Corporation is the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company
Cognisant of the fact that as such, a corporation is formed and framed to enhance short-term exploitation of people and places with no respect for long-term, sustainable considerations like health and ecology,
Cognisant of the fact that they are entities with no moral fibre nor any inhibition on harming people and places in the statutes of their incorporation into an entity with legal identity
Cognisant of the fact that those creating these entities of heartless exploitation and ruthless seizure considered the people thus exploited to have no souls ~ as per the decree of Infallible Papal Bull of the 16th century ~ and the places thus denuded to be commodities ~ with no residential interest for themselves and their progeny
Cognisant of the fact that the peoples of these places have now regained control, command and sovereignty of their own destinies and the future of their territory, the only residential option for themselves and their progeny
Cognisant of the fact that in Asian political science the imperative laid on the ruler as primary responsibility is to safeguard the health and the access to justice of its people,
With these considerations in mind the following conditions are guaranteed by the constitution:
2.1. No government may surrender any aspect of national sovereignty to any other entity such as a corporation, be it national or international.
2.2. No Corporation may enjoy or entertain a benefit, subsidy or grant for which an individual is not also eligible.
2.3. No corporation may be taxed at a rate lower than that of the individual.
2.4. No corporation may advertise or supply products or services detrimental to the health and well being of the people or the long-term ecological and sustainability needs of the territory.
2.5. No Corporation may give gifts in cash or kind to anyone holding public office, nor to any political party. Donations
to registered charities and individuals for artistic or educational purposes would be subject to the control of the
Editorial Board referred to in 2.6.
2.6. No Corporation may receive gifts in cash or kind from anyone holding public office, nor from any political party.
2.7. No Corporation may have editorial control of any media. Final control will be vested in an Independent Commission of elected office bearers, who receive no compensation for their time served: just a modest daily stipend and expenses for attending meetings, in line with what is paid to directors of government departments.
2.8. All Corporations shall be held responsible for all health and environmental impacts of their products and services and provide the finances required to make good any loss or damage caused by their activities to person or place.
I am quite aware that these would have to be rephrased to fit in with the language of the Constitution. Please consider them suggestions at the conceptual level, not statements with the necessary legal precision.