Offshore Riches

April 15, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka's Central Bank has called for the setting up of a high-powered decision-making body, possibly headed by the president, to handle oil exploration. A well-structured institutional arrangement should exist for policy formulation, management, regulation, and supervision of oil exploration, development and production, it said in its newly released 2007 annual report.

"In this respect, a high-capacity decision-making body would be required for policy making at macro-level and guiding oil exploration to become a dynamic and well-positioned industry in the long run.

"Given the high national importance of oil exploration, such institutions are headed by none other than the head of the state in some countries of successful oil exploration."

However, the proposal comes at a time of growing opposition to the highly centralised nature of power in the island, where the executive president wields near-dictatorial powers and is also immune from prosecution.

There have been growing calls to introduce checks and balances to prune executive power.

But mechanisms that are already law like the constitutional council that decides on

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