Sri Lanka’s premier trade chamber believes a better selection process by political parties in selecting candidates for future elections could change the country’s political culture and attract quality investments, both local and foreign.
Applauding the ‘March 12th Declaration’, which identifies a minimum set of criteria that political parties should use when selecting candidates for future elections, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said such a move is an absolute necessity for a truly productive and competitive private sector.
“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,” the CCC said in a statement.
‘March 12th Declaration’ is an initiative by People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) and the ‘Citizens’ Collective’.
The CCC urged the leaders of all political parties to strictly follow the ‘March 12th Declaration’ and nominate candidates with unblemished records and said this would be the first step towards establishing a political culture that truly serves the needs of the people of the country.
“We strongly believe that the time has arrived to foster such qualitative change in the political culture of our nation. 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 statement added.
The trade chamber also applauded the decision taken by President Maithripala Sirisena not to extend the tenure of Local Government bodies, thus paving the 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.”
Meanwhile, the CCC reiterated the need for conducting parliamentary elections without delay.
“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 CCC noted.
“National policies including those relating to the economy are on the back burner pending a general election and the formation of a government with an appropriate mandate. 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.”
The trade chamber pointed out that the mandate for the present government was to implement a 100-day programme and currently more than 30 days have passed from the date the Parliament was meant to be dissolved, i.e. April 23.
“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.”