Administrative Services Association expresses concern over current crisis and proposes reforms – The Island
Text and images
by PRYAN DE SILVA
The Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association (SLASA) yesterday (18) expressed concern over the current crisis facing the country and submitted its proposals for economic and social resurgence to a gathering of clerics, members of Parliament, trade union leaders, civil servants of non-governmental organizations, the media and its members, at the Mahaweli Centre.
SLASA President Rohana de Silva, addressing those present, said that poor economic and social policies had caused the current situation and admitted that a number of administrative failures had caused it. aggravated.
He said the advice given to lawmakers, both individually and as a union, from time to time had had no effect. Therefore, the Association had been compelled to present the proposals to others in the public service and to the general public before the current economic crisis worsened.
The SASA chairman said that since 1972, the civil service had come under the control of the Cabinet of Ministers and the civil service had acted on the whims and fancies of politicians. He added that it was imperative for the civil service to be an independent professional service to overcome the current crisis.
Among the proposed changes are reinstating the 19th Amendment to the constitution, limiting the president’s staff, and forming a 10-member constitutional council to appoint all independent commissions, including the National Tenders Commission, to limit the number of Ministers to twenty-five (25) and the number of Deputy Ministers will also be limited to 25.
That all Cabinet documents be approved by a “Political Council” composed of people competent in policy formulation before being submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers.
SLASA recommends the introduction of provisions in the constitution to strengthen the Commission to investigate allegations of bribery or corruption. SLASA also recommends that the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Enterprises Committee be further strengthened to streamline public finance control.
Among the economic management proposals is the reintroduction of the PAYEE tax system, and that all agents who are subject to the PAYEE tax should pay it out of their salaries and not through their institutions. The reintroduction of withholding tax, the immediate suspension of tax exemptions, the revision of the level of eligibility for the payment of personal income tax and value added tax, the exemption of corporation tax to be done according to an appropriate methodology.
Recommendations were also made for the agriculture, education, energy and industry sectors.
Welcoming the proposals submitted by the SASA, the union leaders present expressed their displeasure that the SASA did not object to the appointment of people outside the service to administrative positions. It has also been suggested that SASA members should refuse to carry out orders given by a government that has not been democratically elected or has lost the trust and mandate of the masses.
NGO chief Manjula Gajanayaka, who was in the audience, said it was an encouraging sign that members of Sri Lanka’s administrative service had openly voiced their concerns.
Gajanayaka added that this is the first time the association has stood with the public.