ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 49
Financial Times  

Enhancing the role and productivity of MPs - Letter

Lal de Mel
Past President – FCCISL
(Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka)

I am happy to note the consensus reached by the APRC and the major parties for the introduction of a mixed system of representation, combining the First Past the Post-system and the system of Proportional Representation.

This paves the way for citizens to have a Member of Parliament representing their interests in the Parliament, the absence of which has compelled the citizens to seek the help of the media to highlight their grievances.

The clamour by practically every MP to be a Minister or a Deputy Minister is a result of the absence of job satisfaction.

The fragmentation of Ministries has only resulted in reducing the job satisfaction of Ministers and Deputy Ministers and an administrative nightmare.

There is a need for all political parties to look at enhancing the role, productivity and thereby the emoluments of the Members of Parliament.

The suggested solution is to make all MPs who are not Ministers or Deputy Ministers or hold other high appointments that demand their time, members of the Provincial Council. They will elect one of them as the Chief Minister.

The present Provincial Council members have lost the respect and confidence of the public.

The removal of this ineffective layer of politicians will help to enhance the emoluments and the responsibilities of MPs who are members of the Provincial Council to a level comparable to at least a Deputy Minister, while remaining close to the citizens who elected them to power.

The public appreciates the yeoman service rendered by the members of COPE. It is suggested that they be named members of the Good Governance Committee.

The responsibilities of the Good Governance Committee should include pre-approval surveillance of all Bills submitted to the Parliament, with the freedom given to this Good Governance Committee to release their comments to the media.

This will enhance the role of the Good Governance Committee of the Parliament to be comparable to independent ministers, with the freedom to express their thoughts, without being subject to Cabinet responsibilities. This type of vetting of Bills before submission to parliament will remove the embarrassment caused by Bills passed by Parliament being criticised by members of a Second Chamber.

The size of the Good Governance Committee of the Parliament can be enhanced o ensure the representation of all major ethnic and religious minorities, making a Second Chamber redundant.

The emoluments and the rank of the members of the Good Governance Committee should be comparable to Ministers, to attract members of high calibre to this vital Committee.

A good management practice of all major companies is to limit the number of layers between the lowest layer (the Citizen) and the highest layer (the Prime Minister) to a minimum. The suggested rationalisation of politicians and enhancement of the role of MPs is consistent with this rule of good management.

At the same time, the citizens must retain the right to complain to the President, if any MP tries to acquire their property or business for the personal benefit of the MP, or harm their interests, as there have been many instances of such abuses of power.

I hope this proposal will receive the attention of the members of APRC and the Members of Parliament.


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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.