Hold polls without delay: Ceylon Chamber

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 02:19 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Private sector lobby says contradictions emerging from amongst diverse political forces currently forming Coalition Government are leading to instability
  • Endorses ‘March 12th Declaration’ setting minimum criteria political parties should use when selecting candidates


The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce renewed its call for the conduct of general elections without further delay, whilst the private sector lobby has also endorsed the need for minimum criteria when selecting candidates.

The Chamber said the contradictions emerging from amongst the diverse political forces currently forming a Coalition Government are leading to instability. The business community is concerned as are potential investors from overseas.

“The mandate for the present Government was to implement a 100 day program and currently more than 30 days have passed from the date Parliament was meant to be dissolved, i.e. 23 April. National policies including those relating to the economy are on the backburner pending a general election and the formation of a government with an appropriate mandate,” it said.

“It is imperative that such a government is elected to office at the earliest so that policies can be formulated and implemented to kick-start the economy and exploit its true potential. However, in the event there is consensus amongst political parties that other constitutional amendments – including electoral reforms – are vital before Parliamentary elections, we urge that such enactments are expedited considering the serious impact that any delay and the associated uncertainty has on the national economy,” the Ceylon Chamber said in a statement.

It noted that elections, both at national and local government level, are in the offing and the Chamber reiterates that the onus is now on the leadership of all political parties to demonstrate their true commitment indeed by nominating candidates with an unblemished record, strictly abiding by the criteria outlined in the March 12th Declaration.

“This would be the first step towards establishing a political culture that truly serves the needs of the people of Sri Lanka,” the Chamber said.

The Chamber, whilst endorsing this timely initiative, assures its fullest and continued support to propagate the important ideals set out in the March 12th Declaration and in realising the objectives enshrined therein.

The ‘March 12th Declaration,’ an initiative of PAFFREL and the ‘Citizens’ Collective,’ identifies a minimum set of criteria that political parties should use when selecting candidates to face all future elections.

 “We strongly believe that a political culture enshrined with true democratic ideals, free of corruption and other social malice are an absolute necessity for a truly productive and competitive private sector,” the Ceylon Chamber said in its statement.

“Such a culture will help attract quality investment, both local and foreign, enhance international trade and create an environment conducive to achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth thus fulfilling the aspirations of all our people,” it said.

“We strongly believe that the time has arrived to foster such qualitative change in the political culture of our nation. In this context, we applaud this most important initiative taken by PAFFREL and Citizens’ Collective. We are also pleased to note that almost all political parties have endorsed the March 12th Declaration, thus demonstrating their commitment towards establishing such a political culture,” the Chamber statement said.

In this context, the Chamber has applauded the decision taken by the President in not extending the tenure of local government institutions, thus paving way for the people to exercise their franchise and select those whom they believe can serve them best. “We consider this a positive step in reinforcing democratic ideals and good governance in the Country,” it added.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, an institution that has served the Nation for 176 years, is a confederation of 8,500 business entities – small and medium to large conglomerates, both private and quoted and Sri Lankan and multinational – 21 business councils, 37 trade associations and 22 regional, sectoral and other chambers. It is affiliated to over 120 international chambers worldwide and is recognised as the country’s premier business chamber.