Failure in 2015 to prevent multiplication of Ministries and manipulation of elections | Daily News
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Failure in 2015 to prevent multiplication of Ministries and manipulation of elections

In this continuation of amendments I proposed for the 19th Amendment in 2015, I look at my desperate attempt to introduce coherence into the executive, with a limited number in the Cabinet and portfolios entrenched in the Constitution as on the American model. I get rid too of the preposterous concept of State Ministers, who cannot function independently but have the same perks as Ministers. They are simply a device to reward – or now to win over – individuals without giving them clear responsibilities to fulfil.

And I tried again what I had reiterated since I saw that the appalling 19th Amendment kept the power of appointing Ministry secretaries solely in presidential hands, to stop this mockery of the commitment in the manifesto to an independent public service.

In addition I tried to entrench fixed terms for elections, essential for Parliament as also I had argued earlier for the Presidency, since otherwise the president can play musical chairs. Now he can get rid prematurely of a Parliament not to his fancy, and he can advance his own election if he thinks he is more popular than his Parliamentarians, hoping then that his coat-tails if he wins will help in a Parliamentary Election.

I cannot understand why our political scientists have not registered that premature elections are unheard of except on the Westminster model, and also why they have not highlighted that such flexibility leads to that becoming an end in itself. As a consequence productive work is hindered by constant recourse to elections – a situation made worse by the option of having Provincial Council elections too essentially at will, given how they too can be dissolved early and also postponed.

I also here ensure a judicial process in any impeachment, something omitted when Standing Orders were amended in 1983 to intimidate the next Chief Justice, Ranil gleefully claiming that they dealt with only part of the required process since the Chief Justice kept quiet.

And the last two clauses are to build up the Committee system, as was pledged, giving Committees teeth, not the anodyne expansion that happened and is still in place with no forceful measures possible for Parliamentarians.

Rationalizing the Executive

11. Replace (3) with The President shall be the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers, and shall hold the portfolio of Defence. The Cabinet shall consist of 25 other members whose functions shall be laid down in the 9th Schedule to the Constitution.

We are pledged to a scientifically structured Cabinet and we must once and for all get rid of the idea of departments behind shifted between ministries. The following is a suggestion for the 9th Schedule, though it will also be necessary to add in the different departments that should be permanently with each Ministry.

1. Defence and National Integration

2. Finance

3. Foreign Affairs

4. Agriculture and Irrigation

5. Economic Development and Investment Promotion

6. Trade and Industries

7. Health

8. Human Resources (Education, Higher Education, Vocational Training)

9. Plantations

10. Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Resources

11. Housing and Construction

12. Social Services, Samurdhi, Women and Children

13. Fisheries and Livestock Development

14. Human Rights, Reconciliation and Good Governance

15. Public Order and Disaster Management

16. Transport and Highways

17. Local Government and Public Administration

18. Justice

19. Lands, Urban Development, Water Supply

20. Environment

21. Ports and Shipping

22. Labour and Foreign Employment

23. Social Amenities (Cultural Affairs, Sports, Posts)

24. Aviation and Tourism

25. Media, Telecommunications and Information Technology

26. Archaeology and National Heritage

11 continued Delete 43 (1) nd (2) and (3) and replace with ‘The President shall, in consultation with the Prime Minister, appoint from among Members of Parliament Ministers to be in charge of the Ministries, and may change the composition of the Cabinet of Ministers from time to time in consultation with the Prime Minister.

11 continued Delete 44

The concept of State Ministers is unnecessary, and there should be a simple Cabinet with Deputies to match

11 continued Delete 45 (1) and (2) and replace with 44, The President may, in consultation with the Prime Minister, appoint upto 26 Deputy Ministers to assist the Ministers in the performance of their duties.

11 continued Delete 46 and replace with only A Minister or Deputy Minister shall hold office throughout the period during which the Cabinet of Ministers functions unless he or she is removed from office under the hand of the President in consultation with the Prime Minister or ceases to be a Member of Parliament

11 continued In 47, 48 and 49 replace ‘on the advice of the Prime Minister’ with ‘in consultation with the Prime Minister’, and delete references to ‘other Minister(s) appointed under Article 44)’

11 continued In 52 add at the end ‘with the concurrence of the Public Service Commission’. Delete 52 (3)

In the interests of an independent Public Service, we need Permanent Secretaries appointed by a PSC. This obviously will not preclude special cases where someone is necessary, but the onus should be on the executive to make a good case for this, without individuals allowed to make choices for which they are not accountable.

Fixed terms for Parliaments

17. Replace 62 (2) with Every Parliament shall continue for five years from the date of its first meeting and no longer, and the expiration of the said period of five years shall operate as a dissolution of Parliament.

19. Similarly, 70 (1) should read ‘The President may by proclamation summon and prorogue Parliament. He may dissolve Parliament prior to the fixed date of its dissolution, if Parliament requests the President to do so by a resolution passed by no less than two-thirds of the whole number of Members (including those not present) voting in its favour.’ Delete 70 (5) ©

Rectifying the impeachment procedure

Introduce a new section 19A as follows Add 74 (1) (iii) impeachment procedures provided that there is provision for independent judicial inquiry prior to any decision made by Parliament, and on the basis of which such decision must be made with a two thirds majority being required for such impeachment.

Strengthening committees

(iv) the establishment and regulation of Parliamentary Committees, including Consultative Committees for Ministries and separate Finance Oversight Committees, the chairs of which shall be members of parties not belonging to the Government

(v) ensuring that the executive responds promptly to parliamentary recommendations and questions

It was pledged that Parliament would be strengthened, and for this purpose it is essential to build up the Committee system.

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