President Maithripala Sirisena promises consensual governance
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said his administration would introduce a new political culture and the country would be governed through consensus for the next two years.
`This country has been ruled by two parties from time to time since Independence. One party ruled the country for 35 years and the other for 32 years. I hope to change this political culture and replace the two party system by a government of consensus during my time. I hope all of you will extend your cooperation and assistance to make that effort a success for the betterment of the country and nation,` the President said, presenting the first Statement of Government Policy in Parliament yesterday.
He requested all MPs to pay their attention to find ways and means to reinforce the on-going efforts to reach a consensus on the basis of the accord between two major parties. `In preparing the agenda of the government of consensus, my presidential election manifesto titled, A compassionate governance, a stable country approved by the people of this country will provide the foundation. On that foundation we will build on the plans and programmes envisaged in the UNP s manifesto titled `A New Country in 60 Months: Five Point Plan`, and UPFA s manifesto A Certificate guaranteed for the future , JVP s manifesto `Accord of Conscientiousness` and TNA s election manifesto. The policy document of the government of consensus is being prepared now with comparative studies on those manifestos and it would soon be made public.`
`The identity of a nation or a country is found on its constitution. That is why a constitution is considered supreme. During the 60 years after independence we have adopted three constitutions.
Yet it is so unfortunate that we have not been able to adopt a constitution which enables all of us to agree as a single nation. Since the day the 1978 Constitution was passed, there were various opinions and complaints with regard to the executive presidency and electoral system. I have paid my attention to this matter in my manifesto Compassionate governance, a stable country . Getting the 19th amendment to that constitution passed in parliament was fulfilment of one of the promises I made in that manifesto. Now it is up to this parliament to decide whether we can continue with the executive presidency and if so what its nature should be. One of my other pledges was to amend the electoral system that has been pestering this nation for more than three decades. As you all know the basic foundation towards changing the electoral system is provided with the 20th amendment I have presented. The present parliament is bound by the historic duty of amending the electoral system so it could be acceptable to all political parties and members of the civil society.`
President Sirisena said that it was before new Parliament to take political decisions, preparing policies which would lead the country ahead in post-conflict reconciliation process. `You elected to this parliament have become the shareholders of the supreme task of creating a new political culture which will help us stand as a single nation irrespective of ethnic and religious differences. I as the President am dedicated to provide leadership, guidance and assistance to you all in that regard.
`I believe that human resource is the most valuable resource our country has. It is only by improving the human resources we can develop this country on par with other developed nations in the world. Our country has already achieved middle income earning stage and moving further from there is only through the capacity building of the human resource and converting this country s work force into a trained labour that can accept any challenge in both local and foreign labour market.
`I would like to remind you that the 21st century is the century of Asia. We should make use of Sri Lanka s geo-political location to the maximum in that context of Asia rising in the world. We should prepare our national economic policies keeping this in mind`.
The President said that there had been many neglected areas in economic policy planning. Self-employment and small scale entrepreneurial industries were among them. The new government should focus to remedy such negligence and capitalize on the avenues that strengthen the national economy.
`People voted for my A Compassionate governance, a stable country programme for its main features of doing away with corruption and protection of state resources. Hence one of the main policies of my government is to fight corruption. In that regard, our government will further strengthen the institutional mechanisms available to arrest corruption and waste. We will also not hesitate to take punitive action against those who are accused of corruption and misappropriation of public funds irrespective of their status.`
President Sirisena promised that his government would work to minimise the economic disparities as much as possible. He said that a country could not be called a developed nation if a few rich people were enjoying the dividends of development while the majority remained poor. `Thus, our government will work towards increasing the per capita income and to minimise the economic disparities between the rich and poor in the meantime. Minimizing the economic disparity will also result in expansion of the middle class/
`Many countries in the world had achieved fast development at the cost of environment. Now they had realised the ill-effects of the speedy march towards development. It had resulted in many unintended consequences. Therefore, we will plan our development giving priority to green policies.`
The President said there was a pressing need for national policies which would not change as governments or presidents changed.
He said that action would be taken to ensure that the rights of vulnerable groups, women, children, disabled and elders be safeguarded.
There were some shackles of feudalism still hampering the nation in its efforts to stand up. `There are many backward, traditional vestiges of feudalism in our society. For example, we have noticed how some people become inconvenient when they are requested to say their full name loud because certain surnames indicate their caste identities. I have taken initiative to enable people to enter their surnames in official documents only if they are willing to do so and not to make it compulsory.`