Viknarajah invited to tackle bribery
By Harinda Vidanage
Former Appeal Court Judge and one-time head of the Public Service
Commission and Western Province Governor K. Viknarajah is to be
invited by the Constitutional Council to fill the long-standing
vacancy in the Permanent Commission to Investigate Bribery and Corruption
(PCIBC). The Constitutional Council on Thursday decided to invite
Mr. Viknarajah to serve as a member of the Commission.
Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed his name which was seconded by Opposition
Leader Mahinda Rajapakse and two other members of the supreme council
that select members for the several independent commissions.
A much respected
figure in legal circles, Mr Viknarajah, despite an invitation to
serve, will now need to go through an elaborate selection process
which includes a marking system that has been strongly criticised
on the footing that it demeans applicants subjecting them to unnecessary
In the application
form, would-be appointees are asked for detailed information about
their wife's precious stones (cut or uncut), a child's debentures,
and whether the applicant or his wife or children own power driven
vehicles such as motor boats!
The marking system requires that the applicant score a minimum of
45-points to qualify for selection.
and Corruption Commission has been inoperational since February
this year when one of the three Commissioner's, T.N. Abeyawira,
died. The law requires that the vacancy be filled by either a retired
Supreme Court or Appeal Court judge, and that the Commission cannot
function unless three Commissioners sit.
General has ruled that no new bribery and corruption investigations
can be started nor fresh indictments made until all three commissioners
An attempt by retired Court of Appeal President Upali de Z Gunawardene
to get himself nominated to the Commission in April fell through
after as many as thirty public petitions against him over his suitability
for the post were upheld by the Constitutional Council.
Constitutional Council at its meeting on Thursday decided to recommend
A.S. Gunawardena to the President for appointment to the Finance
Commission since C.P. de Silva who was recommended earlier has declined
to serve in the said commission on a full-time basis.
Wijesekera has been appointed as the Secretary-General of Parliament.
The Constitutional Council approved her appointment on Thursday.
Ms.Wijesekera who joined Parliament as a Research Officer in June
1992 was appointed Assistant Secretary General later that year and
continued to hold the post till her confirmation as Secretary General.
Ms.Wijesekera is the first woman to hold the prestigious post.
cites broken promises for looming strike
By Faraza Farook
Broken promises and delayed implementation of decisions in resolving
issues concerning doctors has pushed the Government Medical Officers
Association to go on an indefinite islandwide strike on Tuesday,
the trade union body charged.
The GMOA has
given an ultimatum to the Health Ministry till tomorrow (Monday)
before its members in all Teaching and General hospitals take to
trade union action on Tuesday in protest at a delay in rectifying
a salary anomaly that the union has been requesting for several
years. The matter has come to a head now with the recent salary
increase granted to nurses, Assistant and Registered Medical Officers
and other medical staff.
Committee spokesman Dr. Dimuth Silva said when the matter was taken
up recently this year, the Health Ministry had accepted their grievance
and agreed to rectify the salary anomaly by way of a Cabinet Paper.
However, Cabinet approval has still not been sought, he alleged.
At a meeting
on April 8, Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Reggie Perera had assured
he would get Cabinet approval within four weeks. Later, in a written
assurance dated May 7, Dr. Perera had stated that the Cabinet sub-committee
appointed to look into the salary anomaly had assured the proposal
would be placed before the 'very next Cabinet meeting'.
after this assurance, we still haven't seen any progress on the
matter," Dr. Silva charged. Although the long holidays during
Vesak and the recent floods may have delayed the process, the GMOA
felt there was no reason to further postpone the issue.
Dr. Silva claimed
that the Assistant and Registered Medical Officers have been put
on a higher salary scale than the MBBS doctors. This, he alleged,
affected administrative functions too as such responsibilities are
based on the salary received.
The GMOA is also protesting against the stoppage of a mission allowance
paid to doctors working in the North and East. Although a ceasefire
is in place, Dr. Silva said, the doctors working in these areas
were still exposed to hardships. Nearly 900 doctors are in service
in the North and East.
P. Dayaratne said the Cabinet was awaiting a report from the Treasury
on the proposal forwarded by the Sub-Committee to rectify the salary
anomaly. "We're with the doctors," he said adding, "we
are not delaying anything, but simply following procedures."
said the anomaly had been created 10 years ago. However, the issue
had been carefully studied by a Cabinet Sub-Committee which put
forward a proposal agreeable to doctors. The Treasury is presently
studying the proposal and is expected to submit a report by this
week. "It's being negotiated," he assured.
to continue payment of a mission allowance to doctors serving in
the North and East was unfair, he said. "Today there are people
going to the North and East for holidays. So what is the risk for
doctors?" he queried. Arrears, if any, would be paid, but demanding
a mission allowance when the prevailing situation is peaceful is
unfair, he added.
to widen docs' horizons
patients and hospitals, particularly those in peripheral units are
to benefit from a revalidation programme intended to encourage doctors
to keep updated about developments in the medical world, the Sri
Lanka Medical Association announced.
is a voluntary scheme which is to come into effect from 2005, where
there will be periodical renewal of the licence of doctors to practise,
provided there is sufficient evidence of good medical practice.
Under this system doctors are expected to participate in seminars,
symposiums and other meetings that open up discussions on the latest
developments in the medical field while also keeping up with advances
featured in medical journals and literature.
will gain points with their attendance at seminars, which would
be taken into consideration in the final assessment that will determine
their eligibility for renewal of their licence.
would ensure that doctors are abreast of the latest medical practices
thereby benefiting the patients who would receive the best treatment,"
President of the Government Medical Officers Association Dr. Kumar
programmes intended to educate doctors on the latest developments,
they will be able to treat patients at grassroots level instead
of having to transfer patients to an upgraded hospital.
of the new system is also expected to improve the quality of services
at peripheral hospitals, which will have to be upgraded to enable
the doctors to put into practice their newly acquired knowledge.
This mechanism could act as a deterrent to quacks who number some
20,000 according to unofficial statistics, Vice President of the
Sri Lanka Medical Council Dr. Ananda Samarasekera said.
a medical degree alone doesn't give the licence to practise,"
Dr. Samarasekera said adding, "unless you keep track of the
latest developments, you will not be an up-to-date doctor".
will put Sri Lanka on par with the other countries where the scheme
is already in practice. "When making applications to practise
in foreign countries, doctors are asked for their last revalidation
date and not the date they passed out of medical college,"
Dr. Weerasekera said.
Medical Development' (CMD) is practised all over the world. However,
there has been no legal requirement in Sri Lanka to date to do this
in order to keep one's licence valid. While some countries have
a system where doctors have to pass examinations and face interviews
if they are to be eligible for revalidation, the process to be implemented
in Sri Lanka will be much more lenient.
Dr. Sunil Seneviratne Epa assured that doctors need not panic that
their licences would be cancelled as they have seven years before
the first revalidation of licences was done. Accordingly, doctors
are expected to gather CMD points starting from 2005 to be eligible
for revalidation in 2010.
programmes will be held in all hospitals including peripheral units,
while libraries will also be updated. The Health Ministry has promised
to fund the proposal put forward by the SLMA and approved by the
Govt. posts from management pool?
The Public Services Commission has proposed that a senior management
pool be created comprising suitable persons thereby simplifying
the task of appointing Ministry Secretaries and Departmental Heads,
which are posts not filled by the PSC.
"The Cabinet could choose and the PSC could help in choosing
a senior management pool," Prime Minister's Secretary and Chairman
of the Administrative Reforms Commission Bradman Weerakoon said
was delivering the keynote address at a public seminar held to discuss
the 'Role of the Public Service Commission', the first in a series
to be held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.
The idea of
such a pool which had originally been made in the Shelton Wanasinghe
report had not been implemented, he said. "This is a creative
and valuable step in trying to get the best person for the job,"
he said, explaining that Class 1 officers in the all island services
may all have a chance. Otherwise it just depends on who are the
favourites of the government, he said.
Cabinet became the vehicle by which public servants were appointed
things changed radically. The public service was captured by politicians
and became an instrument of its will," he said.
to the fact that Sri Lanka has the largest proportion of public
servants to people in the whole of Asia, Mr. Weerakoon said, "The
public service is heavily overstaffed, due to intervention by authorities.
There are 770,000 public servants, the ratio being 3.6 public servants
per 100 population. Therefore the need for reform."
The Public Service
must ensure that entrants to the service are selected on merit,
not on 'relative' merits and they must not be penalized for doing
the right thing in terms of policy, the law and equity, he said.
R.C.A. Vandergert said the seminar was the first in a series of
seminars to inform the public what the PSC can achieve under the
mandate given by Article 17. The Public Services Commission first
came into existence in 1946.
The 17th Amendment
to the Constitution which came into force on October 3, 2001, amended
the position of the PSC by making it an 'independent' body responsible
and answerable only to Parliament. Established on December 2, 2002,
the PSC has nine other members - D.M.P.B. Dasanayake, Prof. J.N.O.
Fernando, Mrs. Jezima Ismail, Mrs. N. Mohottala, Prof. Ryhana Raheem,
Prof. M. Rohanadeera, Dr. T. Somasekeram and Dr. A.C. Visvalingam.
and members are appointed by the President on the recommendation
of the Constitutional Council and hold office for a term of three
years and may be eligible for re-appointment for one further term.
The Commission is empowered to delegate its functions either to
three-member committees, which it may set up, or to individual public
relating to staff grade officers will continue to remain under the
direct purview of the Commission, and will not be delegated. Meanwhile,
another panelist at the seminar, Mr. M.C.M. Iqbal of the Human Rights
Commission said, "It is meaningless talking of the public service
of the country if we do not change the Provincial Public Service
He said there
was the need to change the law to bring the provincial councils
under the law of the 17th Amendment with Divisional Secretaries
and AGAs having to perform functions pertaining to the provincial
councils and the central government.
polls: All set but delay seems likely
The Elections Department has finalized preparations
to hold elections in the North and the East on June 25 despite the
Government moving to bring in amendments to postpone the polls.
The bill was
presented to Parliament last month, but was put off. However the
bill has to be passed before June 25. The Sunday Times learns that
the bill is expected to be presented when Parliament sits next on
June 17. The Government is likely to postpone the elections with
the decision to call for fresh nominations.
Commissioner M.C. Arunthavachelvam told The Sunday Times that 80%
of the work had been completed. "The ballot papers have been
printed and polling cards have been delivered. We have only to set
up polling booths and deploy the staff, and do the counting after
the polling" said Mr. Arunthavachelvam.
He added that
the Department had to proceed with the preparations despite the
Government making it clear that amendments will be presented in
Parliament postponing the polls.