Colombo Telegraph

Reform By Consensus

By Somapala Gunadheera

Somapala Gunadheera

Our Cabinet has been built up from the wrong end. Its carder has not been fixed on the workload available but on the number required for the government to remain in power. That has resulted in producing what is called in indigenous rustic parlance ‘a pissige palaamalla’ – a grab bag of a mad woman. The bag contains much that is superfluous, repetitive and rotten. That makes even the useful, dysfunctional and ineffective.

To my mind that breakdown is the roots cause of the prevailing dissatisfaction all-over the country. The Government has dragged its feet for two long years amateurishly without a coordinated plan of implementation, on an ad hoc basis, hoping for the best. This situation has to be rectified forthwith, if it desired to maintain the majority in its fold and continue in power after the next election. The first priority here is to create an apposite management structure. Basically the assignment implies identifying the workload, classifying it to sectors and fixing the cadre required to develop them efficiently. That is how Governments are run efficiently in organized countries.

Unfortunately that cannot be done in our context. Trouble will begin at the stage when those who have been hanging on unproductively discover that they were going to lose their status and perks under the new arrangement and the objective will be sabotaged under threats of the write-offs’ to topple the government in power by shifting their support to the opposite side. That is how the long overdue Cabinet reshuffle is dragging on indefinitely. Those in office who are below par in their performance use pressure on their favourite sectional leaders to obstruct the reshuffle, despite it being a suicidal move. Thus no reform would be ever possible, if we keep on cutting the suit to suit the draper without cutting it to suit the cloth. That cannot be done until our prime objective remains to please the draper.

We cannot escape this vicious circle unless we make objective decisions as we set forth on the new approach, leaving no room for subjectivity in the process. Such decisions can only be taken with all the members of Parliament sitting together as a collective body to determine the proper workload of the executive. That can be done through a qualified professional committee fixing the structure and the cadre objectively.

Making appointments to the cadre is taken up only at that stage based on the track records of those who are available to fill them. Even that assessment must be made by an apolitical professional body. Those who prove themselves at the evaluation will get automatically appointed to the respective posts with no recourse to wire pulling. As the arrangement is made with the consensus of all members of Parliament, it would be the duty of each of them to make it a success by collectively blocking any person judged to be incompetent, trying to upset the applecart by crossover. I understand this arrangement is more easily said than done but we have to make an honest beginning somewhere if we are to pull our country collectively out of the morass that it is falling into day by day.

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