As any organisation needs a strong chief executive to drive the organisation to success, a nation also needs to have a strong chief executive that will drive the nation towards its full potential. This article document my thoughts on how the executive branch of Sri Lanka must be organised
Managing the nation with a powerful but regulated chief executive position will provide the required vision, agility and the momentum needed to build Sri Lanka to a strong nation.
In our opinion…
Sri Lanka has to be ruled by a “Strong Executive Presidency”!
But the president must not be “All Powerful” executive. The president must have the freedom and Independence to operate within the legislative framework of the nation. Also, president must not have power to control the judiciary and/or the parliament.
Structure of the Executive Branch
Following is the proposal on how the Executive Branch of Sri Lanka must be organised.
At the top of this institution is the executive president. Under the executive president their are three groups of organisation. Ministries and Regulators, Regional Administration and State Owned Enterprises.
The role, number and the function of ministries has being hugely diversified and conflicted over the years. This situation needs to be remedied in a new constitution
Role of the Ministry
Today the ministries in Sri Lanka pays three different roles. Those are Policy maker, Regulator and Operator. The level of activity in each area differ based on the respective ministries composition.
This obviously create conflict of interest specially when the Operator role is shared with the private sector. I believe that ministries shall be exclusively assigned with Policy maker and the Regulator. Same ministry should not be able to operate in the specific business area.
For example: Ministry of Trade may define trade policies and regulate them. However, it should not operate any type of trading organisations. However its recognized that government may need to operate certain strategic businesses such as “Sathosa” in this space. However that would have to be operated under the Umbrella of “National Enterprises” and those would have to follow the same regulations as any in the private sector.
Appointment of Ministers
As explained in several instances ministries are today used by the president to bribe ministers. This is a key reason that I advocate to remove the provision with the Constitution that mandate the MPs to be ministers. Instead, no MP should be allowed to operate in executive or judiciary branch. This concept is further discussed in this article
Providing Independence to the ministries would have to be controlled by a strong governance framework. Following article explains how the ministries and parliamentary committees will work together.
Defined Set of Ministries
Need to consolidate and regulate the number of ministries are much recognized and accepted requirement across the society. Our proposal is to establish the number and portfolio of the ministries is as part of the core constitution.
Proposed list of ministries are included in the following post.
The president will be responsible for the administration of districts. While different government ministries would have specific purposes and deployments at district level the current District Secretary role in the public administration provides a strong collaborative platform. I don’t believe we need any specific changes to this administrative service except that District Secretaries having direct line to the president. (probably the president may at his discretion deputize the vise president to look after the provincial administration).
However, we need to establish some level of political oversight to this process. Therefore It is suggestion to create a district level committee (Similar to District Development Coordination Committee today) that is a representation of all the parliamentary members and/or local council chairs. They should have the oversight on the district administration and provide guidance and priorities to the District Secretary. This commitee can replace and take over the residual responsibilities currently held in provincial councils.
National Enterprise Funds / National Service Organisations
This is the arm of the executive that is responsible for “Operating” various services and enterprises. Based on the needs of the nation we may create different funds to support such services. They will operate those services in-line with the regulations.
A. National Health Service: will be such a service. It will own and operate all the national hospitals of the country. This could include public health services and /or government owned commercial entities (such as Pharmaceutical corporation).
B. Defense Industries fund: would operate all the commercial entities related to defense such as Rakna Lanka services and maybe a pure commercial operation that directly competes with private sector on equal grounds.
Income from government owned commercial entities may fund the other operations within the fund. Also government can establish special provisions to operational support the cost services within these funds. (for example: government may refund the cost of public health services to this fund). All rules and regulations will be managed by the ministry of health and its relevant regulatory agencies. Both government and private sector organisation will be required to operate under the same regulator framework. subject to same standards and inspections.
This would help to foster the private sector in a strong regulated environment and removing unfair competition from the market. On the other hand government will have control and capacity on strategic services that can be utilized for emergencies and commercial nonviable situations.
Each of these funds/ Services would have to be established using a specific act within the parliament. However such acts should not provide any additional provisions (such as tax concessions, exclusivity on government contracts etc) that is anti competitive.
These funds / services would have to be operated under the president (example a secretary general appointed by the president following the same process as the minister appointment). Each of the funds will have a parliamentary committee that will oversee its operations. Our suggestion is that government to establish 10-15 such funds and consolidate all current enterprises and services under those funds.
Other special organisations
There are number of other institutions that either directly or indirectly operate under the president. These are organisation such as the Central Bank, Treasury, Government Press etc. These should continue to operate as same as today. However appointment to all top positions should follow the same, “proposed by the president – validated by the parliament committee” process. President may have the power to veto the recommendation of the parliamentary committee at anytime. However, that would risk the parliamentary committee not providing sufficient financial provisions to such organisations.