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Swift resolutions 

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Monday, 19 February 2018 00:00

The week opens under the shadow of more political wrangling as parliament opens for the first time since the 10 February vote. But there is also growing urgency for matters of State to return to the top of Government priorities. 

The Parliamentary Business Committee comprising leaders of political parties represented in Parliament will meet today. This is because even though Parliament business for the week had been decided prior to the local government polls, the setback suffered by the ruling parties at the polls and their reaction to it had necessitated a party leaders’ meeting. This has been scheduled to discuss a possible change in the week’s program, which included key legislation.

Even though reports of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) attempting to form a Government continue to trickle in, the political environment appears to be leaning in favour of maintaining the status quo and providing a compromise by shuffling Cabinet. Whatever the decision it must be made swiftly by the party leaders and the tasks of State must return to pride of place. 

Already officials are awaiting direction on how to proceed with purchasing power in what will likely be another drought-hit year which will require dealing with the economic fallout. Sri Lanka is also weeks away from attending yet another United Nations Human Rights Council and is preparing to go to the markets with a crucial bond sale to prepare for debt servicing. All this and a myriad of other issues demand and deserve Government attention. 

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe on Friday admitted to reporters that the Government accepted it needed to fast-track its work and would focus on its key tasks in the weeks and months ahead. From the start this Government has been handicapped by a lack of policy consistency and coordination, with different policies being trotted out at different times. The complicated nature of coalition politics will clearly not be tolerated by the masses, as was evidenced on election day and the top Government politicians need to understand this. 

Whether it was the fuel shortage, the controversy of allowing women to purchase alcohol, changing of the fertiliser subsidy, drought and flood relief or the bond scam investigations, the public had ringside seats to the Government’s actions and drew their own conclusions as to what was happening. This independence in the vote base is growing and no longer will people be limited by party lines or spin doctors. 

The reinstating of civil liberties is to the credit of this Government. But it also means that they are held to far higher standards than their predecessor. People want tangible change and quick action when problems occur irrespective of how difficult it may be to actually implement them. The Government has to work extra hard to bridge the gap between reality and this aspiration in the remaining two years if they want to make a better showing at the upcoming elections. 

This is a chance for the Coalition Government to reset and reorient itself to the demands of the public. It is time for the President and the Prime Minister as well as those below them to come to a common platform to work together and coordinate action on key pledges in their mandate such as fighting corruption and developing the country. 


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