ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 09
Financial Times  

Corroding pillars of national good governance

As the Wise Old Owl sat perched on his favourite resting place in a contemplative mood, a young owl doing research for a MBA asked; "what are the most significant pillars of national good governance legislated with the active support of the private sector?" He thought for a while and then replied, "The seven most significant pillars actively canvassed by the private sector chambers are;

*Fiscal Responsibility Act, assuring good governance in the management of the national budget

*17th Amendment to the Constitution, assuring 'fit and proper persons' are elected in a transparent manner to key positions of governance

*Amendments to the Monetary Board Act, assuring a private sector majority led professional and independent decision making by the Board

*Consumer Affairs legislation, allowing fair trading options to both business and consumers

*Amendments to the Banking Act, assuring that 'fit and proper persons' are entrusted with the running of banks

*Pensions reforms, with a process led by new entrants to the public service having funded retirement benefits

*Making a criminal offence of the issue of cheques without adequate funds" "These pillars are unfortunately, all in a bad state of
corrosion, and are not effective in assuring national good governance," sighed the WOO, stating further in a mournful voice:

*"The Right to Information Act, to strengthen the civil society to be effective partners in information led good governance assurance,

*Amendments to the Audit Act, to bring all government entities including those formed under the Companies Act under the review scope of the Auditor General, and

*The legislation to allow private sector super annuation operations, were three additional pillars actively canvassed by the private sector and debated, but never legislated ".

The Fiscal Responsibility Act-related governance commitments are openly violated and neither are the set targets for budget deficits complied with nor are the disclosures and accountability commitments vesting in the office of the Secretary to the Treasury being adhered to.

The 17th Amendment, an essential piece of legislation for good governance, enacted with the active support of all political parties, has been crippled by the very same political parties and have thus enabled the President to appoint candidates of his choice to key positions, without public scrutiny of their competency and suitability to hold these key posts and the Independent Elections Commission is yet even to be formed. A vacancy in the Monetary Board to assure independent majority remains yet to be filled and the dominance of the Secretary to the Treasury, ably assisted by the political crony governor, has not curbed the process of directed and non independent decision making. This situation is making the Central Bank a mockery in performing its primary role of assurance of price stability. With the interference of the Minister and the leadership of the Authority acting outside the letter and spirit of the enactment with non independent and non professionalism enforcement, the Consumer Affairs enactment does not provide the hoped for comfort for a fair trading environment to emerge. A collapse of a bank, the state banks continuing with directed lending to the government and cronies, some commercial banks decision making influence being exercised outside the set limitations on shareholder control and old age pensioner clubs running banking institutions, the governance in this key sector is in a state of disrepair.

Essential pensions reforms for the long term good governance has been totally shelved and all positive governance measures introduced are also "gone with the wind" blown by the Treasury boss.

A despicable politico with underworld connections, an admitted cheque fraudster is allowed by the law and the judiciary to become a 'role model' of how to violate the law assuring good governance in business transactions and get away with only minimal state costs and not even a fine let alone a jail sentence, whilst those in charge of the scales of justice preach good governance from the bench and public platforms. The level of corruption, non transparent transactions and nepotism are at heights never reached before and are being transacted openly without shame or fear. The key defence material sourcing supply chain remains outside the Auditor General's purview. The national provident, pension and trust funds, with significant public funds in trust for the working people are misused to meet short term political and economic advantage of those in governance.

"Alas! The irony is that all these are evident to every citizen and private sector leader, but not to those who hold positions of collective responsibility for the private sector whose deafening silence is an encouragement to those bent on collapsing the pillars of good governance," summed the WOO.



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