BASL submits 13 proposals

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The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has submitted 13 proposals to restore political and economic stability in Sri Lanka.

The BASL proposes that the Government immediately introduce the 21st Amendment to the Constitution by repealing the provisions of the 20th Amendment and restoring the 19th Amendment.They said in doing so the present number of Court of Appeal and Supreme Court Judges should remain intact and the introduction of the provisions of the 19th Amendment should result in the re-establishment of the Constitutional Council, the Independent Commissions which existed under the 19th Amendment whilst enhancing their financial independence, transparency and accountability.

They said in addition to the provisions of the 19th Amendment, the 21st Amendment should stipulate that, the appointments of the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the Monetary Board should also be done with the approval of the Constitutional Council.

Also, the appointments of the Secretaries to the Ministries, Governors, Ambassadors and Heads of Missions to be done on the advice of the Prime Minister in consultation with the Cabinet of Ministers and also Presidential Pardons should be given according to the recommendation by a body established by law, appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council.

Upon enactment of the 21st Amendment to the Constitution all Secretaries to Ministries to be appointed and all independent Commissions other than the Judicial Service Commission bereconstituted. The BASL also proposed that the President should not hold any portfolio (as stipulated by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution).

Abolition of the Executive Presidency as early as possible,but not later than 15 months. The amendment to that effect should be passed in Parliament no later than 30 November 2022 and must set the operative date by which the Executive Presidency will be abolished. The Executive Presidency to be replaced by a Parliamentary form of Government, where the Prime Minister, as the head of the Government and the Cabinet of Ministers is accountable to Parliament.

Establish an Interim Government of National Unity consisting of 15 Cabinet Ministers. The Prime Minister to be a Member of Parliament who is able to establish a consensus, among all political parties recognised by the Speaker in Parliament, on the national economy and to enact necessary reforms. If there is no Member of Parliament who meets this criteria due to the exigencies of the situation, a vacancy created by the resignation of a National List MP may be used to facilitate the entry into Parliament of an individual who meets this criteria, where there is bi-partisan consensus to appoint a person who is not presently a Member of Parliament as the Prime Minister, even if such individual’s name did not appear in the original List submitted to the National Elections Commission.

For the Interim Government, in consultation with all relevant independent, apolitical Professional/Trade/Civil Society organizations, to appoint an independent Advisory Council consisting of 15 qualified professionals from disciplines corresponding to the 15 Ministries or relevant to the national economy. All major policy decisions of the Government to be taken in consultation with the Advisory Council in a transparent manner.

The Cabinet of National Unity shall prepare a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) in consultation with the Advisory Council. The CMP will be tabled in Parliament for its approval and implementation of the CMP will be the responsibility of the Cabinet of National Unity. The CMP should lay special emphasis on caring for the most vulnerable people of Sri Lanka at this time.

The CMP shall include the abolition of the Executive Presidency and also the BASL proposes a budget presented by the Interim Government be based on the CMP.

The Government of National Unity will be for a maximum period of eighteen (18) months and a further six weeks as a caretaker Government to oversee elections. At the conclusion of eighteen (18) months Parliament will be dissolved and a General Election will be held at the expiry of six weeks. The Government of National Unity will cease to exist at the conclusion of the General Election.