Sri Lanka’s 20A will help resolve disparities in development and growth: Minister


May 15, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s proposed electoral reforms will allow better representation at grass root level which can help solve disparities in terms of development and growth within Provinces, a Minister said.

“The 20 amendment to the constitution hopes to put in place electoral reforms that will bring better representation at grass root level,” Mahinda Samarasinghe, state Minister of Finance said.

“This is relevant when we look at Sri Lanka in terms of development and in terms of growth within Provinces, when you go into the grass root level there are great disparities,”

“There are disparities in terms of development, infrastructure provisions, goods and services and also at logistic level. These need to be irradiated.”

The Minister made these comments at the launch of United Nations Economic Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2015 held at the Institute of Policy Studies in Colombo, Thursday.

According Central bank data 45 percent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) comes from the Islands Western province while the other provinces lag behind.

The Southern Province accounts for 11.5 percent, Central Province 8.5 percent and the war torn Northern accounts for only 4 percent of the country’s GDP.

The ESCAP report says Sri Lanka’s economic growth is expected to remain at the high rates of 7.5 percent in 2015 and 7.6 percent in 2016 on continued strength in private consumption.

Sri Lanka growth performance has strengthened since the civil war ended in 2009, in part due to reconstruction efforts on road networks, hospitals and schools while the economy expanded by 7.4 percent in 2014, up from an average of 6.8 percent over 2012/13.

The Minister says political reforms are need for sustainable development but it remains a big challenge.

“Political representation is important for an electorate and this is what we are trying to do without unbalancing the present representation in Parliament. As much as the larger parties have their share of representation the smaller parties should to,” Samarasinghe said.

“This is a big challenge and at the moment we are trying to arrive at some middle ground so that finally we will have a electoral system that will make us more accountable to the people of this country.”

According to the proposed reforms in the 20 amendment, 196 members will be elected on a first-past-the-post system and a district-based proportional representation (PR) system allowing continued parliamentary representation for minor political parties.

The remaining 59 members will be from the National List.

The FPP will also come into play with all electorate level winners entering Parliament. However there will be some multi-member polling divisions returning two or three victors.