Following is the letter written to President Maithripala Sirisena by good governance activist Chandra Jayaratne in connection to the National Unity Government’s policy statement announcement made on the opening session of the 8th Parliament.
Dear Mr. President,
You have today, during the opening session of the 8th Parliament, in announcing the Policy Statement of the new National Unity Government, clearly articulated the vision of ushering in reconciliation, mutual understanding, sustainable and equitable socio economic development and religious harmony, realized through a new political culture of consensus politics, where key national policies and practices of compassionate governance will remain unchanged over the long term, and lead to a country where the benefits of sustainable growth and prosperity, peace and harmony will be shared by all citizens.
The civil society whilst endorsing the announced vision looks forward to actively engaging and supporting the new initiatives of the government, in its bid to assure the timely realization of the priority commitments announced.
The civil society however wishes to caution you that an effective risk management processes, independently carried out by competent multi disciplinary professional team and led by a like minded leader, are essential to realize the vision of the new government.
The structures and processes of risk management must be embedded within the governance framework and must have the capability to identify and assess the likelihood of any high risks crystallizing during the governance process.
The probability and severity of the likely impact, from such identified potential risks facing the new government in realizing its vision, must be subject to assessment well before any amber light signals appear. The risk management capability should in addition, prior identify and develop mitigation action options. Effective management action plans must also be in place with essential capability and resource backing, and in a state of readiness to be brought out to face the likely challenges, no sooner the dedicated risk management team deems it is essential that such plans must be activated.
Key risks likely to impact negatively in realizing the vision
1. Holding the new coalition government together, despite the partners representing separate political parties; collectively enjoying a two third majority in parliament enabling the passage of essential enactments; and being readily supported by a progressive and effective opposition, which is critical where necessary but supportive of the agreed national policies of compassionate governance and sustainable value addition; and being duly supported in governance by a cohesive team of Ministers, Legislators and Key Officials, all of whom are committed to realize the vision, despite expected challenges; with all singing from the same hymn sheet of agreed national policies and practices of compassionate governance; working as a team with the sole aim of realizing growth, prosperity, peace, harmony , amity and national reconciliation for the sustainable benefit of all citizens; being aware of the risks if punitive action needs to be taken against leaders and members of present and past regime for any acts of corruption, waste, mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds
2. Ensuring an external environment where Sustainable and Effective Peace, Harmony, Reconciliation, Religious Amity prevails; with shared spaces and effective understanding amongst diverse communities and segments of society; and facilitates celebrating diversity; and drives national unity and shared visions, which uphold accepted societal norms:
3. Ensuring that Effective Power sharing and devolution of power, which upholds the principles of subsidiarity are effectively in practice ; and resolves the long standing national question through an acceptable political solution and obviates any future conflicts:
4. Enactment of a new constitution which ensures that the sovereignty is effectively in the hands of the people, promotes national security, national integrity, peace, harmony, reconciliation , and religious amity; with an acceptable electoral system; embedded freedoms and rights; and ensures democratic governance that is fair and equitable; and encompass all essential checks and balances for good governance, rule of law and justice systems which prevail with effective segregation of independent powers of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary:
5. Fair and equitable application of the rule of law and justice systems ensure internal security and leaves no room for terrorism, extremism, nationalism, hate speech and undesirable elements of society to mislead the people and create chaos disrupting the forward march towards growth and prosperity of all:
6. Ensure Good governance; with transparency and right to information, and effective and equitable national resource allocations; minimizes waste and corruption; eliminates nepotism; promotes meritocracy and gender equality; and ensures effective and functioning of independent public institutions and regulatory agencies:
7. Ensure sustainable and equitable economic development; associated with poverty alleviation and creation of new sources of national value addition, new livelihood options ;with fair and equitable opportunities for all segments of society; and promotes the rights of vulnerable segments of society including the elderly, women, youth, children and disadvantaged/disabled
8. Effectively overcome the Challenges of Change Management in implementing the economic/ fiscal and balance of payment linked reforms agenda; which envelops initiatives aimed at promoting economy, efficiency and effectiveness of resource management; development of a culture of shared services and alliances/networks based competitiveness; policy reforms for enhancement of productivity, quality and competiveness; reforms aimed at having a more acceptable and sustainable growth options with sector focused reforms driving value added exports, innovative high skills leveraging industries and services; public sector reforms; and policy reforms covering trade, investment, technology transfers; and effective external and public debt management; strategies aimed at controlling inflation and managing exchange rates via more effective, enhanced and sustainable state revenues raising measures and focused state expenditure and budget deficit management; and promotion of innovation and research as the key tool for competitiveness:
9. Human Development through policies, practices and allocation of resources for empowerment via education, skills development, health and nutrition and work practices and cultures aimed at improving productivity, quality, competiveness, and teamwork:
10. Protection and assurance of the sustainability of the ecology and environment: promotion of acceptable carbon footprints; and controlled exploitation of natural resource; sustainable mining and extraction industries; and development of cost efficient alternate energy options:
11. Effective and friendly International relations with all nations; enhance value addition benefits from expanded trade, services, investments and technology transfers; promote close and supportive relations with key neighbouring countries, emerging nations of the Asian region and the developed western nations; effectively manage any potential risks of international community led charges/sanctions over purported war crimes and state sponsored atrocities and unlawful acts purportedly carried out by the armed forces and law enforcement agencies
12. Managing effectively any potential Leadership succession risks
It is recommended for your kind consideration the essential need to set up a dedicated independent unit to support the risk management initiatives of the new coalition government. The new unit must be endowed with necessary human and other resources. This unit should have as its terms of reference, the effective and proactive risk identification, risk assessment, risk mitigation planning and risk management implementation action. It is essential that the new independent risk management function must have oversight responsibilities going across the governance framework and include the oversight and network authority over the political party mechanisms within the coalition, the office of the Prime Minister, the members of the Cabinet, and key ministry officials. The terms of reference and empowerments granted to the proposed Risk Management unit must permit and encourage it having effectively in place, dispute resolution type empowerments; including mentoring and guiding accountability with powers of mediation and arbitration, where risks identified early can be effectively mitigated by such processes.
Madame Chandrika Kumaratunga being a key mover, committed and dedicated to ensuring the realization of the new coalition government’s objective of realizing its vision, would an ideal candidate to lead this initiative, working in close network with you as the President and the Prime Minster.
She and the risk management unit must, in carrying out defined tasks will need to be supported by a risk management council of like minded leaders of society and a pool of human resources being handpicked multidisciplinary team of professionals
I trust that this submission, made with the sole aim of seeing you and the new government realize its vision, will receive the careful review and attention yourself and your committed leadership action.