May 30

An Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) and the Seventh Annual General Meeting (AGM) of CIMOGG were held on 30 April 2009 at the Professional Centre of the Organization of Professional Associations.

New, simplified Articles of Association, approved by the Registrar-General of Companies, were placed before the EGM and approved (see Annex AoA).

Also at the EGM, Honorary Membership was conferred on the following –

For Promoting the CIMOGG concept

Mr. A. Denis N. Fernando

Mr. W.B.A.Jayasekera

Mr. Elmore Marsh Perera

Past Presidents

Mr. Walter Ladduwahetty

Dr. Shelton Wanasinghe.

The AGM followed. The Report of the Council is given below as Annex RC7AGM, in which the particularly important are Items 4.1, 6.1, 7.3 and 8.1.

The Accounts, audited by M/s H.T.Peiris & Co, Chartered Accountants, were tabled and approved. The most significant figures are that the total income from subscriptions, donations and bank interest was Rs296,616 and that expenses were limited to Rs206,244. If CIMOGG is to implement the People’s Empowerment Programme, referred to in Item 7.3 of the Report of the Council, it would need to convince at least 1% of the 2,000,000 Sri Lankans resident overseas to contribute a minimum of US$5 each every year towards its implementation. Otherwise, the scope of work carried out by CIMOGG will continue to be greatly limited.

The election of Office-Bearers (ie. members of the Executive Committee) and Councilors (ie. members of the Advisory Council) followed. See Annex EC&AC-09 below.

M/s H.T.Peiris & Co were re-appointed Auditors.

Corporate Affairs (Pvt) Ltd remain Company Secretaries.

The CIMOGG website is





The Rules contained in the Model Articles of the First Schedule to the Companies Act No. 7 of 2007 shall not apply to the Association but the rules contained herein shall be the Articles of Association.


2.1 Unless there shall be something in the subject or con­text that is inconsistent therewith, the words stand­ing in the first column of the following table shall bear the meaning set opposite them respectively in the second column thereof.


Act Companies Act No. 7 of  2007
The Association Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance
Member Any Member of the Association registered in terms of these Articles of Association
Executive Committee Office-Bearers who constitute the Executive Committee
Advisory Council Advisory Council consisting of up to twenty (20) Members who are elected at the Annual General Meeting
Councilor A member of the Advisory Council
Special Resolution Meaning given in the Act


2.2 Words importing the masculine include the feminine gender and vice versa.

2.3 Words importing the singular number include the plural and vice versa.

2.4 Words importing persons include corporations.

2.5 These Articles shall be construed with reference to the provisions of the Act and the words or terms used in these Articles shall be taken as having the same meaning as if they were used in the Act except where herein provided otherwise.


The name of the Association is “Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance”.


The Registered Office of the Association shall be situated at such address in Sri Lanka as the Executive Committee may from time to time determine.


The objects for which the Association is established are –

i) To mobilise the citizens of Sri Lanka for the purpose of building a truly democratic society in which the sovereign will of the People is respected and all citizens live in peace and harmony with each other, united in their diversity, under the Rule of Law, and in which all public office is held in trust for the People;

ii) To provide a forum for individuals and organisations to meet and work towards Object (i) above;

iii) To focus public attention on matters pertaining to good governance and to do whatever is necessary to achieve same;

iv) To act as a pressure group on all political parties and those holding public office to make them comply with the requirements of good governance;

v) To work towards ensuring the right to information on matters affecting good governance and to disseminate such information.


6.1 The membership shall consist of three categories, namely –

     i) Ordinary Members;

    ii) Life Members;

    iii) Honorary Members.

6.2 Only persons who subscribe to the objects of the Association shall be eligible for membership.

6.3 Membership shall be by an application forwarded with a recommendation by a Member and approved by the Executive Committee.

6.4 Entry of the name in the Register of Members of the Association shall be conclusive evidence of membership.

6.5 A Member who pays the prescribed life membership fee shall be entitled to life membership in the Association.

6.6 A Member granted honorary membership in terms of the rules or bye-laws of the Association shall be free of the obligation to pay membership fees.


7.1 A Member shall cease to be a Member of the Association in any of the following eventualities –

i) If the member dies;

ii) If the member is declared by a Court to be insolvent or of unsound mind;

iii) If the member is convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude;

iv) If the member fails to observe any rules, regulations, resolutions or decisions of the Association and/or if he acts against or in a manner detrimental to the interests of the Association as may be decided by the Executive Committee and a resolution is passed by a two-thirds majority of the Members at a General Meeting of the Association terminating his membership;

Provided that, before such a resolution is passed, the Member concerned is found guilty by a Disciplinary Committee consisting of not less than three independent persons appointed by the Executive Committee to inquire into the alleged offence/s or the Member concerned, by not availing himself of the opportunity to appear before the Disciplinary Committee, has forfeited his right to defend himself.

v) Upon receipt by the Association of a duly signed notice in writing sent by a Member to the President or Honorary Secretary of the Association of the Member’s wish or int­ention to resign.


8.1 Every Member shall pay such admission fees, ent­rance fees, registration fees, sponsorship fees and subscrip­tions that may be prescribed from time to time by the Executive Committee and approved by the Members at a General Meeting, provided that no Member shall be liable to pay subscriptions for any past period in the event of an increase.


9.1 The management and control of the affairs of the Association ­shall vest in the Executive Committee which shall administer and control the funds of the Association.

9.2 The Executive Committee shall consist of the Presi­dent, six Vice-Presidents, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, Honorary Assistant Secretary and Honorary Assistant Treasurer. The members of the Executive Committee for the time being in office shall continue to hold their respective posts till the end of the next following Annual General Meeting after the adoption of these Articles.


10.1 The Executive Committee of the Association shall be elected by the Members at the Annual General Meeting of the Association. Names for each post shall be proposed and seconded by the Members at the Meeting and in the event of more than one name being proposed and seconded for any post a vote shall be taken by a show of hands.


11.1 An Advisory Council of up to twenty (20) Councillors shall be elected each year at the Annual General Meeting.

11.2 The term of office of the Advisory Council shall be from the conclusion of one Annual General Meeting to the conc­lusion of the following Annual General Meeting.

11.3 The Advisory Council is a purely advisory body the members of which shall have the right to attend meetings of the Executive Council and to offer their views on matters under discussion but shall not be entitled to vote on such matters. The Executive Council shall give Councillors’ views careful consideration before arriving at its decisions.


12.1 A Member shall cease to be a member of the Executive Committee in any of the following eventualities –

i) If he ceases to be a Member of the Association;

ii) If he dies or voluntarily resigns his office;

iii) If he is disqualified from holding office pursuant to section 202 of the Act.


13.1 In the event of a vacancy occurring in the Executive Committee or the Advisory Council for what­ever reason, the Executive Committee may by consensus of those present at a meeting appoint another mem­ber of the Association to fill the vacancy for the period up to the next Annual General Meeting.


14.1 The Executive Committee may, from time to time, in respect of any matters not expressly provided for herein, recom­mend to the general membership of the Association by‑laws, rules, regulations and amendments to such rules and regulations deemed neces­sary for the proper administration of the Association for approval by the Members. Any amendments to these Articles shall however only be made with the prior written approval of the Registrar General of Companies and by the sanction of a Special Resolution.


15.1 The Association shall in compliance with the Act call an Annual General Meeting of the Association not later than six months from the close of the financial year of the Association and not later than fifteen months from the date of the previous Annual General Meeting.

15.2 All General Meetings other than Annual General Meetings shall be called Extraordinary General Meetings.

15.3 Not less than fifteen working days’ written notice shall be given of Annual General Meetings and of General Meetings called for passing of Special Resolutions and in the case of any other General Meeting ten working days’ notice shall be given.

15.4 A General Meeting called by a shorter notice than that specified in article 15.3 hereof shall be deemed to have been duly called if it is so agreed –

i) in the case of an Annual General Meeting, by all the Members entitled to attend and vote at the meeting; and

ii) in the case of any other meeting, by fifty percent of the Members entitled to attend and vote at the meeting.

15.5 The notice specifying the nature of business to be transacted and the date, time and place of the said meet­ing, shall be sent by ordinary post to all the Members of the Association at the respective addresses registered with the Association.

15.6 No written notice of a meeting adjourned for less than thirty days is necessary if the date, time and place are announced at the adjourned meeting. Written notice shall be given if the meeting is convened after thirty days.

15.7 Apart from any other business set by the Executive Committee, the following business shall be transacted at the Ann­ual General Meeting –

i) Consideration and adoption of the Audited Financial Statements of the Association;

ii) Consideration and adoption of the Annual Report of the Executive Committee regarding the working of the Association since the preceding Annual General Meeting;

iii) Election of the Executive Committee and Advisory Council in accordance with these Articles of Association;

iv) Appointment of the Auditors and fixing their remuneration.

15.8 The quorum for the Annual General Meeting shall be twenty (20) Members present in person or by proxy.

15.9 The President or in his absence a Vice-President shall preside at all Executive Committee and General Meetings of the Association.


16.1 Extraordinary General Meetings may be convened on the direction of the Executive Committee, the President or in his absence on the direction of a Vice-President.

16.2 The Executive Committee shall proceed to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members within thirty working days from the date of deposit at the Registered Office of a requisition, stating the issues to be discussed and signed by not less than ten percent of the Members having voting rights.

16.3 In default of such a meeting being convened by the Executive Committee the requisitioners themselves may convene the meeting in the same manner as provided herein.

16.4 The quorum for an Extraordinary General Meeting shall be twenty (20) Members present in person or by proxy.


17.1 Every Member of the Association with voting rights shall have one vote on any matter and may exercise his right to vote either by being present in person or by proxy.

17.2 A proxy must be appointed by notice in writing in such form as may be prescribed and signed by the Member and delivered to the Honorary Secretary not less than 24 hours before the time of the meeting.


18.1 The Executive Committee shall, from to time, determine the dates, times and venues of meetings and determine the procedure for such meetings.

18.2 The quorum for Executive Committee Meetings shall be six (6) Members of the Executive Committee personally present. All decisions shall be by consensus.

18.3 A resolution signed by the majority of the members of the Executive Committee present in Sri Lanka, after circulation amongst them, shall be as effec­tive and binding as if it had been passed at a meeting of the Committee duly convened and held. All such resolutions shall be entered in the Minute Book of the Association.

18.4 Special Executive Committee Meetings shall be summoned by the Honorary Secretary at the request of the President or on the written request of any other six (6) members of the Executive Committee.


19.1 All decisions of the Executive Committee shall be by consensus, taking into consideration the views of the committee members present. The agreement of not less than two-thirds of those the Members of the Executive Committee who are present shall be deemed to be a consensus.­


20.1 The Executive Committee shall cause minutes of Executive Committee Meetings, General Meetings, Extraordinary General Meetings and Annual General Meetings to be prepared and maintained properly in the Minutes Books of the Association, which shall be kept in the custody of the Honorary Secretary.

20.2 A minute signed by the Chairman of that meeting or the next succeeding meeting at which the minute is confirmed shall be prima facie evidence of the correctness of the contents therein.


21.1 The financial year of the Association shall end on thirty-first day of December of each year.

21.2 The Executive Committee shall: ensure that –

i) proper records are kept of all receipts, expenses and transactions and the assets and liabilities of the Association;

ii) the Financial Statement for any year gives a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Association as at the date of the balance sheet;

iii) Financial Statements are duly audited, dated and duly signed by two members of the Executive Committee within five months from the date of the balance sheet and delivered to the Registrar General of Companies for registration within twenty working days thereof.

iv) an Annual Report on the affairs of the Association during the accounting period as required by Sections 166 and 168 of the Act is prepared and sent to every Member not less than fifteen working days before the date of the Annual General Meeting.

21.3 All cheques, promissory notes, drafts, bills of exchange and other negotiable instruments shall be signed, drawn, accepted, endorsed, or otherwise executed, as the case may be on the signatures of such Office-Bearers as the Executive Committee may from time to time by resolution decide.

21.4 The Executive Committee may open, maintain and operate such bank accounts in local or foreign currency as they consider necessary to deposit the funds of the Association.

21.5 An Auditor or Auditors, duly qualified in terms of the Act, shall be appointed and his/her/their fees and expenses fixed each year at the Annual General Meeting.

21.6 The Association shall not engage in or support any form of partisan or party political activities or support such activities with its funds.


22.1 The Seal of the Association shall be kept under such custody and control as shall be determined by the Executive Committee and shall be affixed to documents as required by law only with the express prior approval of the Executive Committee and such approval shall be recorded in the minu­tes of the meetings of the Committee. Every instrument to which the seal is affixed shall be signed by the President or one of the Vice‑Presidents and the Honorary Secretary or the Treasurer.


23.1 The Secretary or Secretaries (for purposes of compli­ance with the Act, as distinct from the Honorary Sec­retary and the Assistant Secretary) shall be appointed by the Executive Committee for such term, at such remuneration and upon such conditions as the Executive Committee shall deem fit. The Secretary or Secretaries so appointed may be replaced at any time at the discretion of the Executive Committee.

23.2 The Executive Committee may employ such persons as are required to carry out the programmed of work prepared by the Executive Committee at such remuneration and upon such condi­tions as the Executive Committee may think fit and the services of any such person or persons so appointed may be ter­minated at the discretion of the Executive Committee.


24.1 In case the Association shall take or hold any property which may be subject to any trusts, it shall only deal with or invest the same in such manner as allowed by law, having regard to such trusts.

24.2 The Association shall not support with its funds any object, or Endeavour to impose on or procure to be observed by its members or others, any regulation, restriction or condition which if an object of the Association would make it a trade union nor will it support with its funds or otherwise any object of a political, religious or communal nature.

24.3 In case the Association shall take or hold any immovable property, the Association shall not sell, mortgage, charge or lease the same without the prior written authority of the Registrar General of Companies and without such authority, approval or consent as may otherwise be required by law and as regards such property the Executive Committee of the Association shall be chargeable for any such property that may come into their hands and shall be answerable and accountable for their own acts, receipts, neglects and defaults and for the due administration of such property in the same manner and to the same extent as such Executive Committee or governing body would have been if no incorporation had been affected.

24.4 The Association shall apply the income and property whensoever derived solely towards the promotion of the objects of the Association as set forth in these Articles of Association, and no portion thereof shall be paid to or transferred directly or indirectly, by way of dividend, bonus or otherwise howsoever by way of profit, to the Members of the Association.

Provided that nothing herein shall prevent the payment in good faith, of reason-able and proper remuneration to any officer or servant of the Association, or to any Member of the Association in return for any services actually rendered to the Association, but so that no member of the Executive Committee of the Association shall be appointed to any salaried office of the Association or any office of the Association paid for by fees; and that no remuneration or other benefit in money or moneys worth shall be given by the Association to any Member of the Executive Committee for such office except repayment of out of pocket expenses or reasonable and proper rent for premises demised or let to the Association provided that the provision last aforesaid shall not apply to any payment to any company of which a member of the Executive Committee may be a member and in which such member shall not hold more than one-hundredth part of the capital and such member shall not be bound to account for any share of the profits he may receive in respect of such payment.

24.5 No addition, alteration or amendment shall be made to or in the provisions of the Articles of Association for the time being in force, unless the same shall have been previously submitted to and approved by the Registrar General of Companies.

24.6 The above clauses of these Articles of Association contain conditions subject to which a Licence is granted by the Registrar in pursuance of Section 34(1) (a) of the Companies Act No 7 of 2007.


25.1 Every Member of the Association undertakes to contribute to the assets of the Association in the event of the same being put into liquidation while he/she is a Member, or within one year after he/she ceases to be a Member for payment of the debts and liabilities of the Association contracted before he/she ceased to be a Member, and of the costs, charges and expenses of winding up, and for the adjustment of the rights of the contributories among themselves such amount as may be required not exceeding Rupees One Hundred (Rs.100/=).


25.1 If upon the dissolution of the Association there remains after the satisfaction of all its debts and liabilities, any property whatsoever, the same shall not be paid to or distributed among the Members of the Association, but shall be given or transferred to some other institution or institutions having objects similar to the objects of the Association, such institution or institutions to be determined by the Members of the Association at or before the time of dissolution and if and so far as effect cannot be given to such provision, then to some charitable object.


26.1 No member of the Executive Committee or officer or Auditor employed by the Association shall be liable for any loss or damage arising from the administration of the Association or the application of its funds and proper-ties, and shall be indemnified out of the funds of the Association against all liabilities incurred by him in connection with the activities of the Association unless such loss or damage is caused through any willful default.


27.1 A notice may be given by the Association to any Member either personally or by post, email, telex, facsimile or other form of communication addressed to his/her registered address within Sri Lanka.

27.2 Notice of all Annual General Meetings shall be given to –

i) every Member;

ii) the Auditor for the time being of the Association.

No other person shall be entitled to receive notice of Annual General Meetings.


28.1 The Association shall indemnify every Office-Bearer, Auditor and Secretary of the Association for the time being against any costs incurred in the course of defending any proceedings that relates to any act or omission in his/her capacity as an Office-Bearer, Auditor or Secretary in which judgment is given in his/her favor or in which he/she is acquitted or which is discontinued.







1 SEPTEMBER 2008 TO 25 MARCH 2009


1. Period Covered

1.1 The Sixth Annual General Meeting of CIMOGG was held on 15 September 2008. The REPORT OF THE COUNCIL prepared for that AGM was for the period 1 September 2007 to 31 August 2008. The present REPORT OF THE COUNCIL covers a term of only just over six months because this AGM is being held early in order to bring its timing into line with the relevant requirements of the Companies Act of 2007, as well as the convenience of having it on the same day as the proposed Extraordinary General Meeting, which, it may be noted, became necessary to approve the updating of the Articles of Association. Moreover, it was considered prudent to give early NOTICE of the AGM (on 26 March 2009) on account of the number of non-working days in April.

2. Keynote Address

2.1 The Sixth AGM was preceded by a Keynote Address as decided by the Council. CIMOGG was fortunate to obtain the consent of His Excellency Robert O. Blake Jr, Ambassador of the United States of America, to deliver the Address. Each Member of CIMOGG was encouraged to bring one or two guests who were likely to be interested in good governance and the Rule of Law. In the event, the OPA Auditorium was filled to capacity and the Address, to which the Ambassador gave the title “Good Governance”, was well received by those present. However, the Press, with the exception of the Editor of the SUNDAY ISLAND, disregarded the invitations sent out to them.

2.2 The refreshments for the large number who attended were donated by a CIMOGG member.

2.3 This year, owing to the heavy pressure of holding both the EGM and the AGM together, it was not considered feasible to have a Keynote Speaker for the AGM.

3. Membership

3.1 An up-to-date Register of Members has now been prepared. It reveals that there are 35 Life Members and 15 Ordinary Members. Of these, 11 Members are Office-Bearers and 11 other Members are Councillors.

3.2 Meetings of the Council were held every Thursday at 4.00pm in Committee Room B of the OPA Centre, other than on public holidays. Of the 22 members of the Council, the attendance at the weekly meetings was generally around 12-16, which is an indication of the commitment and interest of the members of the Council to work towards the objects for which CIMOGG was founded.

3.3 Although there were many different opinions and suggestions canvassed at Council meetings on a wide variety of subjects, the final decisions taken were always unanimous, without the need for voting.

4. Contributions to the Press

4.1 During the period under review, a total of eleven substantial contributions appeared in the English press, of which the ISLAND and the SUNDAY ISLAND were particularly supportive. The details are as follows –

“Recalling Medals and Awards”


“Loudspeakers, Monks and the Sri Lankan Identity”


“Bar Association, Weliamuna and the 17th Amendment”


“The Courage to Fight Corruption”


“Polythene Pollution”


“Discrimination and National Unity”


“The President, Magistrates and the Constitution”


“Profligacy and the High Price of Petrol”


“Two Key Requirements for Long Term Progress”


“God No 330,000,001”


“Banking and Inland Revenue Secrecy”


4.2 There were at least three occasions on which SUNDAY ISLAND Editorials made encouraging and appreciative comments on the role played by CIMOGG in highlighting important national issues. We immensely value the fact that our articles are read with a thorough understanding of what is being said and also the sympathy shown for CIMOGG’s efforts.

4.3 A great deal of energy and much expenses were incurred in getting several of CIMOGG’s newspaper contributions over the past four years translated into Sinhala. These were type-set neatly and then sent to six of the leading Sinhala language newspapers. One of these contributions appeared in the RAVAYA about two years ago and another in the LANKADEEPA about a year ago. Inquiries made reveal that, in the case of one important Sinhala paper, the length of the contributions is of greater weight than the value of the contents! As it would be improper and impractical to send articles in Sinhala with different (and less comprehensive) contents than those sent to the English language press, this matter will have to be looked into again to see if there is some other way out.

5. Companies Act of 2007

5.1 Much discussion, effort and expense was involved in bringing the Articles of Association into line with the requirements of the Companies Act of 2007 and the changed requirements of CIMOGG, based on the past four years of experience. We need to thank Mr. Shelton Perera (Consultant) and the Secretaries, Corporate Affairs (Pvt) Ltd, for their assistance in getting the approval of the Registrar General of Companies for the revised Articles.

6. CIMOGG Website

6.1 The CIMOGG website, which was re-designed in May 2008, needs to be updated and expanded. This will be done soon. The website can be accessed at –

7. Fundraising

7.1 A short “flyer” was prepared by the Dr Kingsley de Alwis and Mr Daya Senanayake and emailed by the latter recently to over 125 Sri Lankans living overseas, whose addresses were furnished by members of the Council. There have been a few positive responses.

7.2 Discussions are in progress with the Hatton National Bank, where CIMOGG banks, to make it possible for donors to make payments using their credit cards.

7.3 At present, even the accomplishment of the extremely limited amount of work done by CIMOGG relies on the goodwill of a very small number of friendly organizations and a few generous donors. It is, therefore, imperative that every member of CIMOGG should help to raise the funds necessary to extend CIMOGG’s reach to the people at the grass roots. Every member of CIMOGG should familiarize himself/herself with its People Empowerment Programme, details of which can be found in the website, and to try to encourage our fellow Sri Lankans to send in donations to help get this Programme implemented.

8. National Unity and Education for Good Citizenship

8.1 The Council is of the firm view that the building of National Unity and Education for Good Citizenship is the key to peace and prosperity in the long run. Every endeavour will be made to make progress in these two areas by trying to get the concerned governmental agencies and institutions involved in these two tasks.

(sgd) ((sgd)

Air Vice-Marshal A.B.Sosa (rtd) Dr A.C.Visvalingam

Hony. General Secretary President

25 March 2009



The list below contains the names of the Executive Committee and the Advisory Council of CIMOGG elected on 30 April 2009 at the 7th Annual General Meeting. Up to three responsible positions held presently or in the past by each of them are given against their names.


Dr A.C.Visvalingam

o Engineering Consultant
o Member, Public Service Commission (2003-2005)
o President, Society of Structural Engineers – SL (1993-2000)


Dr Kingsley A. de Alwis

o Agricultural Economist

o UN Expert

General (rtd) Silva

o Army Commander

o Ambassador to Pakistan

Maj Gen (rtd) Kamal Fernando

o Director (Training), NAITA

o CEO, Lanka Tiles Ltd

o Chief Signals Officer, Sri Lanka Army

Mr S.Kulatunga

o Director-General, Export Development Board

o UN Advisor on International Trade

o Addl Secretary, Ministry of Trade & Shipping

Mr Elmore M.Perera

o Surveyor General

o Fellow, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants

o Attorney-at-Law

Dr Mohamed A.M. Saleem

o Air Force Officer

Honorary Secretary

Air Vice-Marshal (rtd) A.B.Sosa

o Chairman, Kabool Lanka Ltd

o Air Force Officer

Assistant Secretary
Mr. M.A.Abbas

o Business Executive

Mr. W.B.A.Jayasekera

o President, Organization of Professional Associations

o Chairman, Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd

o Fellow, British Institute of Packaging

Assistant Treasurer

Mrs. Ranjani de Alwis

Music Teacher

o Artist



o Secretary-General of Parliament

Dr. M.H.V.Cooray

o Senior Lecturer in Botany, University of Peradeniya

o Member, SL Association for the Advancement of Science

Mr. A.D.N.Fernando

o Fellow, National Academy of Sciences

o Senior National Consultant, UNDP

o Secretary, Ministry of Mahaweli Development

Mr G.Anton Fernando

o Attorney-at-Law

o Vice-President, Bar Association of Sri Lanka

o Chairman, Legal Aid Commission

Eng Walter Gunawardena o Industrialist
Mr Stanley Jayasinghe

o Business Executive (rtd)

o Captain, Sri Lanka Cricket Team

Air Chief Marshal (rtd) D.C.Perera o Air Force Commander
Mr D.R.Senanayake o Businessman

Mr S.Nihal Seneviratne

o Secretary-General of Parliament

Ms S.C.Seneviratne

o Company Director

Mr S.Thabendran

o Pharmaceutical Chemist

Eng Thilak Wijesinghe

o Director, Teams (Pvt) Ltd

o Chairman, State Development & Construction Corporation

o President, Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka


30 April 2009

May 29

President Mahinda Rajapakse has, with single-minded determination, destroyed the capacity of the LTTE to wage war in any serious form. Also, by speaking to the Tamil-speaking population in their language on more than one occasion, he has demonstrated his wish to establish a genuine rapport with them. He has said that he does not differentiate between the majority and the minorities but only between those who love Sri Lanka and those who do not. More than once, he has assured the citizens of this country that everyone should respect the Constitution and be mindful of the need to establish good governance and the Rule of Law. He has strongly expressed his desire to get rid of the presidential system of government and return power to Parliament. President Rajapakse’s statements and intentions on these topics are warmly welcomed by us at the Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance (CIMOGG) and we look forward to seeing these take on a more precise form to guide those who will be charged with transforming his vision into practical reality.
Considering the President’s efforts to communicate with the Tamil people in their language, we should like to see the bureaucracy do likewise in their day to day work. All of us are well aware that the provisions relating to the use of Tamil in state activities have been mostly ignored in the past. Hence, the first priority would be to appoint an effective Task Force which will see to it, in a very proactive manner, that the bureaucracy does not continue with the lapses and contraventions of the past three or more decades. Moreover, it is of paramount importance that the President allocates substantial additional resources in the Budget for advancing his recent programme to teach IT and English to all schoolchildren. Although the primary object of emphasising these two subjects was probably in the interests of economic development, we are certain that this will prove to be a measure of monumental importance in facilitating communication between children who are compelled to study in different language streams. Furthermore, promotion of these instruments of mass communication will help schoolchildren greatly by not subjecting them to the additional burden of having to learn either Tamil or Sinhalese as examination subjects. It is difficult to think of a better mechanism to bring together the citizens of the next generation, which is an absolutely vital requirement for political, cultural, social, technological and economic progress.

President Rajapakse has also undertaken to abolish the presidential type of Constitution and to give power back to Parliament. There would be very few persons who have studied the workings of the present presidential system who would disagree with the President’s intentions in this regard. When the Constitution is being amended, it would be prudent to take into account all the many other constitutional issues which political commentators and civil society organisations have been addressing repeatedly, especially since 1994. Some of the more important issues are touched upon below.

Separation of powers – In an efficient democracy, there should be a clear separation of powers between Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary. When President J.R.Jayewardene chose to have something on the lines of a US-French presidential system, he unfortunately retained one of the worst features of the British system, where MPs become Ministers. This leads to a farcical conflict of interests where Ministers of the governing party force through legislation in Parliament to suit their own agendas and, by unscrupulous recourse to their party’s parliamentary majority, block all investigations into their poor performance by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). It is, therefore, essential that an MP who is appointed a Minister should resign from Parliament and let somebody else take his place there. Thus, Parliament can be freed from all executive work and confine its functions to legislation and monitoring the performance of the Executive, including the Ministers, whose job would then be limited to implementing the programmes approved by Parliament.

Ethnic, Religious and other Classifications – Unless there is an unavoidable need to do so, references to ethnicity, religion and other differentiating classifications should not be permitted in government or commercial documentation. The onus of justifying a call for such details should fall squarely on the persons who wish to prepare such documentation. This proposal is in furtherance of the President’s implicit position that no one should be identified as belonging to a minority.

Constitutional Council and Independent Commissions – The present system of appointing members to the Constitutional Council (CC) should be changed so that they are selected solely on account of their eminence, integrity and willingness to, say, devote two or three years of their time, immediately before or after retirement, to full time work at the Council. The present system of part-time membership will not be adequate to deal with the increased numbers of Independent Commissions which will be necessary to divorce the public service, and nationally-important governmental and other institutions, from political interference. Some of the more critical of these are the Elections Commission, High Appointments Commission, Public Service Commission, Police Commission, Judicial Services Commission, Bribery Commission, Human Rights Commission, Media Commission and Finance Commission. The CC and the Independent Commissions should be financed directly from the Consolidated Fund and not be subject to the whims, fancies and prejudices of the Treasury, Ministers or the even the Cabinet. Parliament alone should be responsible for the reasonable allocation of enough funds to permit these entities to function effectively.

Subsidiarity – Parliament must restore to the citizens at the periphery sufficient powers to enable them look after local problems without reference to the larger units of government. Funding should be directly from the Consolidated Fund. In short, the promotion and widespread application of the principle of subsidiarity needs to be at the heart of democratic, people-oriented government. The Grama Rajya concept is the primary component of this exercise.

Declaration of Assets and Liabilities – The public is not aware that there is a huge range of persons who are supposed to declare their assets and liabilities to some specified authority but there no monitoring of compliance. For example, we have time and again addressed the Speaker to tell us how many MPs have failed to make their declarations but he remains silent. Is it a case of “Let the dogs bark; the caravan moves on!”? At the very least, the President should insist that all Ministers, MPs, Provincial Chief Ministers and all state employees who head departments, boards, corporations and tender boards should declare their assets to the Department of Inland Revenue (DIR), and have the law changed accordingly. All Assessors and higher officers in the DIR, should declare their assets to the Auditor-General. In some countries, any member of the public can access this information under the Right to Information Law. We need to have something similar but, in view of our national weakness for groundless vilification, a few basic safeguards may have to be introduced.

International Commitments – Sri Lanka has signed a substantial number of international covenants, protocols and other legal instruments but has often failed to produce the necessary legislation to give effect to the undertakings given by it. We are proud of our long history of civilised behaviour and, hence, the failure to act sincerely and honestly in line with our lawful commitments is a dreadful slur on the People of Sri Lanka. This situation must be put right without prevarication. If we do what is right, we can always stand tall in the international community of nations.

Dr A.C.Visvalingam
President, CIMOGG

May 10

A recent newspaper report has indicated that Minister A.H.M.Fowzie and certain officials of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) were given free travelling, accommodation and training abroad to learn about hedging in connection with the purchasing of petroleum in the world market. The training, as far as one could deduce from the information given, did not last more than a few days. Moreover, the cost of air fares, travelling, accommodation etc had apparently been borne by the banks with whom the hedging contracts were to be signed.
The first thing that struck us at the Citizens Movement for Good Governance (CIMOGG) was that we had always been under the impression that price hedging was a skill which financial, economic and commodities experts took years to acquire. It was, therefore, remarkable that the necessary knowledge and expertise was planned to be imparted in such a short while to non-specialists in this field. Were those who were party to this scheme really serious? At the very least, would it not have been more gainful to the country if the persons who went on this training course had spent their time, instead, in following a course of similar length in Sri Lanka conducted by independent experts with in-depth knowledge of oil market hedging?

The second notable feature of this episode was the dubious value of getting training to safeguard Sri Lankas interests from the very institutions which would unquestionably have wanted to safeguard their own interests vis-a-vis Si Lanka. Taking a fair parallel example, we are forced to ask ourselves whether a representative of President Obama would have gone for a two-day course run by Osama bin Laden on how to conduct the war against the al Qaeda.

A third important issue that arises here is whether the Cabinet, which is compelled to spend only a limited amount of time on any matter before it, and largely relies on a brief but succinct summary from the Minister concerned, was really made aware that critical advice and training on the hedging exercise had been secured from the very party or parties with whom such an important contract was to be signed? The conflict of interests here is so plain that it does not require an Einstein to identify it.

The most amazing thing that we have been told is that neither the Minister nor the CPC officials nor anyone else considered the possibility that petroleum prices might drop below the target range. All of us know that, when there is a shortage of, say, papaws, the price of this fruit escalates rapidly. People then reduce the amount of papaws they eat and the price comes down. Did the Minister and the CPC think that this simple law of supply and demand did not apply to petroleum? Were they really taken unawares when, owing to the steep rise in the price of oil, consumers cut back drastically on consumption, leading to a substantial fall in its price? Can the CPC claim that it was not aware that the price of petroleum had fluctuated violently on several earlier occasions? There is no question that it would have been well aware that some huge oil price rises in the past were initially thought to be irreversible but, on more than one occasion, such increases were followed by dramatic drops.

Now, when a reputable chartered engineer, architect or quantity surveyor prepares contract documents for even a relatively small project, he provides for cost escalations to safeguard the contractor against rising prices over which the latter has no control. This is because most people believe that, in the normal course of events, prices generally go up all the time and that it would only be fair to safeguard the contractor against losses which arise from such price changes whilst, at the same time, keeping the contract price as low as possible. Despite the apprehension that prices as a whole are bound to go up, all these professionals routinely insist on providing for corresponding benefits to accrue to the employer in the event of any unexpected price reductions that occur during the currency of the relevant contract. As a result of an appropriate clause being included, there is many an employer who has benefitted from price drops in some important items pertaining to his project. Over the years, the CPC itself must have signed scores of contracts containing such a protective clause. It is, therefore, thoroughly disturbing to note that so experienced an organisation failed to include such a well-established clause in its hedging contract.

CIMOGG is forced to the conclusion that the Cabinet was not given a proper briefing by the Minister nor the other high officials who were involved in this appalling transaction, which is expected to cost the country around USD800,000,000 and the enormous unspecified legal expenses of international arbitration. We can ill afford this kind of wanton waste, which will result in the public being deprived of the vast benefits they could derive by putting such an immense amount of money to productive use. In these highly questionable circumstances, we are of the view that the Cabinet is duty bound to insist on some degree of accountability being assigned to the various persons involved in this unsavoury exercise.

There is also the question of the part played by the Governor and officers of the Central Bank (CB) in the pre-Ministerial briefing they are supposed to have given the Cabinet. Did they not advise the Cabinet that it was unlikely that the Ministry and the CPC had the necessary knowledge and experience to negotiate with the experts who work for international banks and that, therefore, the Ministry and the CPC should not be sent like lambs to the slaughter but be accompanied by reputed, independent experts of their own? The position of the CB, if we have understood the relevant newspaper reports correctly, is that it had washed its hands off the hedging business once it had finished its original presentation to the Cabinet, in which it favoured hedging. Evading its statutory and moral responsibilities seems to be a speciality of the CB, as in the case of unlicensed finance companies to which we have referred in an earlier contribution to the press. For example, the position the CB took up in the matter of unlicensed finance companies was that it had warned the public by publishing a few notices in the newspapers. The fact is that the people are aware that there are experts in the CB who understand pyramid schemes extremely well and they could have safeguarded the life savings of thousands of old age pensioners and other poor depositors if they had taken the trouble to get suitable legislation passed to enable the CB to prevent the wholesale robberies which several unlicensed finance companies have committed over the years.

CIMOGG wishes to emphasise most particularly that it is not questioning here the relative merits of the claims made by the hedging banks and the counterclaims of the CPC. We are only questioning the procedures which were followed prior to the hedging contracts being signed, especially the failure to stick to well-established financial regulations which have to be followed in all governmental transactions.

Dr A.C.Visvalingam
President, CIMOGG