Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Professional Associations unveil ways for way out of current crisis

 The Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA) recently expressed it was deeply concerned about the farfetched national catastrophe caused by a multitude of reasons including errors in decision-making leading, anarchy, and indecisiveness.

“We are equally concerned about the very real possibility of this situation escalating into a social and humanitarian crisis,” OPA President Dulitha Perera said at a briefing. 

OPA considers duty-bound to assist the executive and the legislature with proposals to overcome the current situation.  

It said Sri Lanka is in an economic catastrophe and people are demanding the President and all 225 Members of Parliament (MP) step down. 

While this may be the ultimate solution, from a practical standpoint, even if the President and 225 MPs step down today, it will take at least six months for the country to have fresh elections and elect its new leaders. 

Besides that, there are roadblocks in the Constitution preventing Sri Lanka from having early Presidential and Parliamentary elections.  As a nation, we cannot afford to wait that long to handle the current economic crisis and it needs to be handled immediately.

To stabilise the economy and the administrative system in the country, the OPA hereby proposes solutions to address multifaceted issues faced by the country. 

OPA is of the view that the executive and legislature encompassing all political parties’ wholehearted support is inevitable if we are to reap the maximum benefit of this proposal.

As the general public is rejecting the existing administrative system altogether with the incumbent Cabinet and MPs, fresh appointments are suggested consisting of people with subject matter knowledge based on meritocracy. 

This Cabinet should be outside of the current MPs and should consist of subject matter experts. e.g., Ministry of Power should be handled by an expert in the Power Sector and the Ministry of Finance should be handled by an expert in the Finance Sector.

The Constitution does not permit appointing non-MPs as Cabinet Ministers, therefore, first, we need to get such subject matter experts into the Parliament. 

OPA proposes that all political parties get their current national list MPs to resign and mutually agreed subject matter experts be appointed as new national list MPs. This would pave way for subject matter experts to take up appointments in the new Cabinet.

The President should allow the subject matter experts to take independent decisions in the best interest of the country. Such decisions should not be subjected to revision by the President through his executive power and such decisions of subject matter experts should be upheld. 

As a matter of urgency, the new Cabinet should negotiate with all multilateral financial institutions on debt restructuring and actively get involved in administering day-to-day affairs. 

While the discussions are ongoing with multilateral financial institutions similar process should be followed in restructuring bilateral borrowings. 

Parliamentary and Presidential elections shall be held at the earliest possible time according to the Constitution, fulfilling peoples’ desire of having a new Parliament and a new President. National lists are to be reserved for subject matter experts in the new Parliament as well.

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