5 August, 2020

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Where Is The Rationality In The Assignment Of Functions To Ministers

By R.M.B Senanayake

R.M.B Senanayake

R.M.B Senanayake

A rational allocation of departments to Ministries and subsequently such Ministries to Ministers may not be possible owing to political expediency. But should there not be some modicum of rationality at least.

How does the recent allocation of functions and departments to Ministries stand up to the standard of rationality?

The recent allocation is more rational than in the past. But there are a few aberrations. For example Minister Lakshman Kiriella is put in charge of University Education and Highways. What relationship is there between the two? Is there any relationship between the two functions? What has university education got in common with Highways? The idea in rational allocation of functions is to group together functions which require the same or similar knowledge and aptitude on the part of the Minister or Manager. This point was made by Herbert Simon one of the theorists in Public Administration. The knowledge and aptitudes to manage these two functions are poles apart. The former function would require a person who is academic oriented and has experience in dealing with academic personnel. The latter function is more related to engineering and construction and requires dealing with engineers and engineering problems. Can one expect a Minister to have knowledge and aptitude in these two totally unrelated fields? Similarly there is a Ministry for Primary industries along with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. There is also a Ministry of Rural Development along with a Ministry for Primary industries. Isn’t all this duplication of functions without clear demarcation of them?

Ranil Royal ColleheWhat happens when functions are not clearly demarcated is that the Ministers and their officials tread on each other’s toes. Then co-operation which is required in dealing with allied and related functions is undermined, which is detrimental to good administration.

But the larger and more important issue is whether statutory organizations need to be brought under Ministers at all. The original theory put forward by the Labor Party after the Second World War in response to critics of State ownership, who said such an exercise would not be conducive to efficiency; was that they were to be freed from Ministerial control and allowed to function like private enterprises to ensure the freedom required for the conduct of business activity despite government ownership. Hence they were not constituted as departments of the government with Treasury controls but as Corporations fully owned by the State but under independent Boards of Directors.

If we are following this theory we should not be assigning these Corporations to individual Ministers for they are known to interfere if not directly at least indirectly through their influence with the Chairmen and Directors who are appointed by the Minister himself. So these persons feel obliged to the Ministers who appointed them and will have to tolerate and accept the influence of the Ministers or face the possibility of being called upon to resign. I have seen this happening during my tenure in the public sector. So what must be done? The suggestion was made to bring them under an organization like “TEMASEK” of Singapore. Singapore’s Temasek model was accepted by China for the reform of its own State Owned Enterprises.

If we are following this theory we should not be assigning these Corporations to individual Ministers for they are known to interfere if not directly at least indirectly through their influence with the Chairmen and Directors who are appointed by the Minister himself. So these persons feel obliged to the Ministers who appointed them and will have to tolerate and accept the influence of the Ministers o face the possibility of being called upon to resign. I have seen this happening during my tenure in the public sector. So what must be done? The suggestion was made to bring them under an organization like “TEMASEK” of Singapore. Why not try it out although I have my doubts whether it will stop Ministerial interference altogether. But it may be better than the present situation.

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  • 1
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    R.M.B Senanayake

    RE: Where Is The Rationality In The Assignment Of Functions To Ministers

    How many of those minister have passed

    1. GCE OL

    2. GCE AL

    3. Univ Degree in what Field

    4. Any Prof Qualification

    5. Other Experience

    6. Political Experience

    7. Shilling Experience

    8. Robbing Experience

    9. Being a Crook Experience

    10. Being a Criminal Experience

    11. Do they have two balls?

    A lot of your questions will be answered by answering the above 10 questions.

    • 1
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      R.M.B Senanayake,

      If you remember Kusal Perera’s articles in the CT the answers are provided there. The whole society is corrupt:

      How else could some of these unscrupulous politicians get elected by the Sinhalese people?

      Sirisena himself is from this society, and he was part of the Mahinda’s reprehensible regime, and even acted as defense minister at the height of crimes against humanity committed in 2009.

      There is a proverb in Tamil which goes like this: Only if something is in the pot it will come in the ladle.

  • 2
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    It is Sirisena who is the root of the problem! As long as he is around there will be no good governance and hence rational development because Sirisena is following Mahinda Jarapassa’s example!

    Bimal Siripala de Sliva who is a FAT JOKE has been given a key Ministry – Transport – the generalpublic desperately need a decent and integrated public transport system and Trains and buses and Train and bus stations need to be made decent and safe – like airports – also for tourists.
    But Nimal Siripala is a clown so nothing will happen to help commuters.

    Meawnhils, the accidental President Sirisean wants to spend 60 billion and build white elephant development projects in Pollonaruwa like MR did in Hambantota.. another airport to store paddy?!
    Sri Lanka’s second international airport should have been built in Anuradhapura or Jaffna to serve tourists and the diaspora..

    The funds the Sirisena want to spend in Pollonaruwa for political reasons should be used to develop the north east which is least developed areas of country because war devastated..

    TNA is also useless because instead of wasting time on Tamil Diaspora antics in Geneva, they should work out a massive INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT PLAN to help the Tamils and other communities who live in Sri Lanka and vote for them, instead or running behind diaspora.

    Please, CT Editors do a story on misplaced development priorities of the politicians of Sri lanka!

  • 2
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    Good one Mr. Senanayake!Singapore’s Temasak model for good governance of Public corporations is an excellent idea! The board should have knowledgeable and honest persons from the business and corporate sector, as well as, social sector.
    But more than that, for geographically Balanced and integrated development planning, Lanka needs a National Planning Commission comprised of honest intellectuals and sector experts, like in India to steer overall development policy and direction.
    This is specially needed because of the policy fragmentation caused because there are so many overlapping ministries. This will cause another layer of bureaucracy, but it is all the fault of the existing CORRUPT POLITICAL CULTURE and the Sri Lanka’s accidental President Sirisena who needs various corrupt cronies in a cabinet of 90! Let’s hope the Supreme Court will rule against Sirisena’s corrupt national list and the cabinet of 90 plus that is a huge drain on public funds to sustain corrupt politicians and their tea party at the Diya-wenna Parliament of morons..

  • 1
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    “Where Is The Rationality In The Assignment Of Functions To Ministers”

    Mr. Senanayake is selling the meat before the goat is sacrificed.

    Sir could you wait until we have finished the important job of appointing the ministers? What is the hurry for logical title for them, before all the buffaloes are herded? Our plan is to push this government at least for two years. Who knows how many further going come and ask for minister post, Sir?

    Be happy sir until there is no minister job as minister of bathroom cleaning of the new Royals, Minister of morning tea delivery for the Royals.

    Amazingly Sampanthar has said “there is a need to appoint that many ministers even though …..”. This had made Sampanthar as the only person who has delivered what he promised so far. Didn’t he promise that he will be as good opposition leader to Sinhala people as a Sinhala party opposition leader would be.That is the efficiency of the Tamil politicians. Bravo!

  • 2
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    RMB,

    You ask, “where is the rationality in the assignment of functions to Ministers”.

    I ask, where is the rationality in giving Ministerial portfolios to well known criminals, rogues and discredited thieves. I also ask where is the rationality for so many Ministers and deputies.

    I am surprised that there is no Ministry for the eradication of termites. Don’t laugh, it is much more useful than so many seat warming ministries.

  • 1
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    Our Prime Minister wants to send parliamentarians abroad for training.
    People like this author is much more suitable than foreign trainers. Our governments are always touching their nose by taking their hands aroud the back of their heads.

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    In reality there has not been and presently there is no rationality in allocation of Ministries other than to pander to the political desires of power hungry politicians. Craving to become a Minister has no end due to the perks and other benefits accruing from such positions.

    It would be far better to devolve power to the MP’s and Provinces and get the job done rather than having 90 odd Ministers running about doing nothing productive. Unfortunately these so called ‘servants of the people’ demand their pound of flesh and even the Yahapalana regime has to succumb to their whims and fancies.

    I suppose ultimately it is the fault of the people themselves who vote for criminals and racists thinking that they will solve problems. As a result we have a Govt without a clear majority. In other words the people get the leaders they deserve. So it is useless worrying about these things unless we speak up and actively support suitable people or stand up for election ourselves.

  • 1
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    As the cabinet and ministerial appointments dribbled out, I rushed to my advisor on all matters pertaining to government, the venerable Pattimahathayage Don Arunasiri who has the measure of our political class from his time in the old CCS and CAS. I sought comfort from the dogs breakfast that was presented to us by our lately chosen ones, President Hope and Prime Minister Bashful. “What” I said “Sir. Is the rationale behind all this?” Patti Sir sucked his teeth (which he always does before making profound statements), picked his nose, furrowed his brow, and exclaimed “the buggers have’n’t a bloody clue, and their one criteria appears to be, what favours have to paid off, and who has to be held close (for now, at least)”. He then ejaculated a well-directed stream of phlegm that entered his well-polished brass paddikama without touching the sides of the rim.

    So, there you have it. Rationality doesn’t come into it, more expediency than careful consideration.

    WE the people gave a sufficient and clear mandate for good government. WE the people expected fresh talent with a commitment to good governance to be given a chance to prove themselves. WE the people DID NOT want to seek those who have amply demonstrated their unsuitable to be given another opportunity to sully government. WE the people certainly DID NOT give a mandate for rascals and thieving crooks to run OUR country.

    It is unimaginable that RW played no part in the selection/approval of cabinet and ministers. Did he approve the appointments? Did he protest? Did he acquiesce? I think these questions should be answered. President Hope too should fully explain what part he played in all this.

    The only certainty that we now have is that this army of ‘buggers’ are going to be a bloody nuisance on the already over-crowded roads of the land, trailing behind a pestilential vanguard of Defenders full of security, driven by bloody lunatics, who pay scant regard for others users. Which begs the question: we have now enjoyed six years of peace, the last two elections have been admirably free of violence, so why the need for an small army of security detail to follow each and every minister around?

    God, will there be no respite from this pestilence?

    • 2
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      Spring Koha

      “WE the people gave a sufficient and clear mandate for good government. WE the people expected fresh talent with a commitment to good governance to be given a chance to prove themselves. “

      I suspect you the people are watching too much “wee the people” noisy discussion programme on NDTV.

      • 2
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        Native Vedda

        No Sir, WE the people are everywhere. At the early morning kopi kade, at the Lunch Buffet at Taprobane (…and elsewhere), at the Pilawoos buriyani (with the egg on top and all) at the night koththu roti joint, at the Salaka bar, at the tambili stop, at the Sunday Pola getting the esteemed watti-amma’s opinion…..and yes even on the deserted beaches of Trinco, Mirissa, and Kudapaduwa.

        NDTV? The rabble that passes for WE the people? Yes, but only when under the influence.

        • 3
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          Spring Koha

          Thanks again

          You love food, a gastronomist perhaps.

          Check your Cholestero, BP, Sugar, Testosterone, …..

          I want you to have a healthy, happy long life, …. This not a selfless thought of mine. On the contrary I am being selfish.

          The longer you live and write the more pleasure we get out your comments. Hope on this occasion your fragrant Irathina Valli will agree with me.

          Please go easy on Testosterone.

          • 2
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            Thank You Native Vedda for your kind words.

            Your invoking of the Fragrant One has lowered my BP and made me feel immeasurably good.

            May you live long, and your days be filled with happiness.

  • 1
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    Seems to be none whatsoever. Neither a square peg in a round hole , nor a round peg in a square hole. Because the holes are all blocked with the debris of crime and corruption flowing as a constant flood, starting with the 1977 government. Farcical referendum, outsourcing and the encouragement of brutal attacks on legitimate protests, promoting of officers of the law when resorting to illegal methods at the behest of the government, etc. The costly fanfare has started although in a minor way, with the temptation to indulge in a self extravagance of all the baubles and glitter and glamour of office, which was condemned by most voters. The example it appears, they feel, should only come from the bottom of society. The defaulters at the top end will continue to seek immunity by uttering frivolous excuses, and the irony is that it will be accepted.

  • 1
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    RMB THE 1947 Cabinet seems to be much more rational!

    Shall we go back and start again from year 1947?

  • 0
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    Sri Kish
    I am afraid it is the assignment of functions and departments to Ministries that must be rational rather than the Cabinet. There is enough literature on the subject beginning with the 1918 Commission in Britain called the Machinery of Government Committee available I think on the Internet.
    The Cabinet is a collective body and collective bodies according to the Theory of Public administration ( I think Herbert Finer etc) are good only for discussion and decision making on matters of policy but not for administration. Our Ministers in order to avoid personal responsibility get the Cabinet to approve administrative decisions in individual instances rather than making policy decisions. The Cabinet should not give cover for such decisions but only take general decisions general decisions. The individual Minister must take the responsibility for the application of such general decisions in individual cases.

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