By Chandima Hulangamuwa
A total of 41 candidates had paid deposits and were expected to sign their nominations yesterday for the Presidential Election to be held on 16 November. We expect these candidates to present their manifestos soon. Generally, these manifestos are full of promises.
Therefore, I thought of presenting a voters’ wish-list for all 41 candidates to see who actually will go through these points carefully and promise to implement all.
1. Re-establish SL as a non-aligned independent state.
2. Beef up the Intelligence Services of the country and have an international network of Intelligence agencies established.
3. A new constitution to be drafted and passed in Parliament with a two-third majority and get the people’s nod through a referendum.
Key factors to establish with the new constitution
- An executive president to rule the country with limited powers similar to the 19th Amendment.
- Sri Lanka to be re-established as a Sinhalese Buddhist country and allow any other race or religion to practice without any extremist ideas. Any group who does not respect another religion or a race should be treated as an extremist group and should be banned immediately.
- Abolish the Provincial Council system and empower the Municipal Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas.
- Only persons with 100% Sri Lankan citizenship can be contested to any of the political positions whether it’s for Pradeshiya Sabhas, Municipal Councils, Parliament or for the post of the president.
- Parliament to consist of 225 MPs and 160 of them to be elected on electorate basis and another 36 based on the preferential system and the remaining 29 through the National List. This will ensure a stable government and represent all societies.
- No province, district or city to be named based on a particular race or religion and all citizens of Sri Lanka should be free to live in any place of the country.
- Election of a seat based on 5% votes to be changed back to the original 12.5%. This will give a fair representation.
- All politicians to be elected as MPs, Pradeshiya Sabha members or Municipality Council members should declare their assets including the assets of their family members at the time of handing over nominations and annual audits to be conducted independently on these elected members and their families. Any unusual income recorded should be brought to the notice of public and proceed with investigations immediately. If revealed guilty of gaining unauthorised income, his/her seat should be vacated immediately.
- If a member of any of these administrations wants to crossover to another party, then can do so but they will lose their seat immediately.
- The cabinet of ministers in Parliament should not exceed 15 and can have another 15 as deputy ministers. No other cabinet or non-cabinet positions to be allowed.
- All cabinet ministries to be constituted as follows and any change can only be done with a two-third majority.
i. Defence – Only with the president
ii. Finance, Policy Planning and Implem-entation
iii. Health and Welfare
iv. Education and Child Prote-ction
v. Foreign Affairs
vi. Agriculture and Irrig-ation
vii. Transportation (Road, Rail, Air and Sea)
viii. Sports and Youth Affairs
ix. Rural Development
x. Religions and Cultural Affairs
xi. Science, Technology, Mass Media and Telecommuni-cations
xii. Justice, Labour, Law and Order
xiii. Power and Energy, Envi-ronment, and Natural Res-ources (incl. Petroleum Reso-urces)
xiv. Industries and Commerce
xv. Housing, Land and Constr-uction
No separate ministers for;
- Different modes of transport
- Different religions
- Women affairs
4. No school should be allowed to operate based on a religion or a race. All schools should have students of mixed races and religions minimum of 30%.
5. International schools should be re-defined. If minimum of 80% of students are expats, schools can be named as international schools and these schools too should have lessons on Sri Lankan culture and history designed by the Ministry of Education. All other non-Government schools to be treated as private schools.
6. All Government and private schools should follow the compulsory subjects of the local syllabus. Two languages (first and second), religion of choice and maths should be compulsory. All Sinhalese students should learn Tamil as their second language and all Tamil students should learn Sinhalese as their second language. This will help to minimise the communication gap. They should be free to face any other examination but only in addition to above.
7. English teachers to be trained by professional British teachers to improve the standards of English teachers. These well-trained English teachers should be deployed in all parts of the country.
8. Exam-based education system to be changed to an exams plus practical knowledge gathering system. In all schools, priority should be given to humanity. More time especially during the first years to be spent teaching humanity to children.
9. Agriculture to be based on organic fertiliser which has to be strictly implemented.
10. All food items locally produced and imported should go through an advanced scanning system using the latest technology and prohibit any harmful products for human consumption.
11. All medicines either locally manufactured or imported should go through proper testing and approve. Also subsequent random checks also should be carried out. All pharmacies should get an annual license which will be issued during the month of December for the next year after proper checks.
12. A proper housing system to be introduced to plantation workers and other low income earners.
13. Digital identity cards with biometrics to be implemented. All major police stations should be equipped to read these digital identity data.
14. All base hospitals in the country should be fully equipped and all other hospitals should be equipped to handle basic emergency treatments.
15. Free quality education and health services to be provided using the latest technologies. However, a mechanism should be in place to accept any public donations to these institutions.
16. Most functions of SL Customs to be automated. This should be adapted by carefully studying other developed countries such as USA, UK, etc. E-BLs and E-DOs to be implemented and accepted by all stakeholders including Customs, terminals, banks, etc.
17. All measures should be taken within the first year to improve the country ranking on LPI and ‘Doing Business’.
18. All bank lending rates should be on a single digit whether it’s for business or personal. Senior citizens deposit interest rates will be higher than normal where the government to subsidies banks on taxes and other means for providing these services.
19. All facilities to be given to exporters to increase their productions and introduce innovative products/solutions. Government to facilitate a manufacture base economy and encourage local and foreign investors to start mega manufacturing plants in automobile industry, FMCG productions, electrical and electronic industry, etc. This will boost our GDP.
20. Proper four-wheel (car – sedans) taxi system to be introduced on a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) basis. This will assist the tourism industry. Importation or production of three-wheelers to be halted and existing three-wheel owners to be facilitated to buy a duty-free four-wheel small car on a special scheme. All three-wheel vehicles to be taken back by a Government-appointed company within a period of one year without adding any burden to the owners.
21. Government to identify the railway as the most preferred mode of transport by commuters and upgrade the rail system to facilitate modern, fast and comfortable trains. This is to be coupled with LRTs and road network. Expressways to be expedited together with the connecting roads. This can be done as a PPP with the Government holding the majority stake.
22. SL Transport Board (SLTB) buses to be modernised and introduce more electrical buses with air conditioning. This also will be possible on PPP with Government holding the majority stake.
23. Airports in Katunayake and Mattala to be upgraded with more facilities. Katunayake to be developed as a transit hub for many carriers. The required laws and tariffs should be amended to facilitate same. By doing this we can attract more traffic.
24. SriLankan Airlines to be developed as a major international carrier. This also can be done on a PPP with Government holding the majority stake.
25. Colombo East Container Terminal (ECT) to be fast-tracked. Tenders for the West Container Terminal (WCT) should be called during the year 2020. Trincomalee Port to be developed with an industrial zone. Similarly to ECT and WCT, this also should be on a PPP. No PPP agreement should exceed 30 years.
(The writer can be reached via email@example.com.)