Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as the 6th Executive President of Sri Lanka on 9th January 2015. President Sirisena’s campaign was driven by the promise of a 100-day program that pledged short-term relief and long-term structural reforms. The promises made were to be completed by the 100th day of President Sirisena’s tenure. While many of these promises have now been fulfilled, but certain key promises remain incomplete 730 days later.
The Maithrimeter on manthri.lk , a parliamentary monitoring initiative by Verité Research created a weighted system to measure the progress made under the 100-day programme, scoring ‘100 days out of 100’. While scoring less than 50 at the 100-day mark, many promises such as the passage of ‘Right to Information’ act were eventually fulfilled increasing the total score to 71.
This is in part because some promises, including the campaign’s central promise of abolishing the executive presidency (addressed in part through the 19th Amendment to the constitution) remain within the ongoing constitutional reform process. However, two key promises: the introduction of the National Audit Bill and the Ethical Code of Conduct are notable delays.
According to President Sirisena’s manifesto, the introduction of the National Audit Bill, with the intention of enhancing the mechanisms of state financial oversight, was scheduled for the 19th of February 2015. Additionally, the introduction of the bill was also a manifesto promise of both major parliamentary coalitions (the United National Front for Good Governance and the United People’s Freedom Alliance) of the ruling National Unity Government. However, progress pertaining to this pledge has been limited to the approval of the draft bill by the Cabinet of Ministers. The Presidential campaign manifesto also promised the introduction and adoption of a legally enforceable Ethical Code of Conduct for members of the Parliament. After an extended delay, the finalised copy of the “Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament” was tabled and presented for the approval of the House by the Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, on 10th December 2016. Nonetheless, the draft Code of Conduct presented to the parliament is limited in its ability to ensure an enforcement mechanism and falls short of the actual pledge. The adoption of a Code of Conduct was originally slated for February 02nd 2015.
Despite these shortfalls, notable progress have been made with regard to pledges such as the introduction of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, establishment of a) commissions to investigate corruption, b) independent commissions and c) the Constitutional Council, and the adoption of the National Drugs policy. Among the successes, the passage of the Right to Information Act in the Parliament on 24th June 2016 and the establishment of the RTI commission is a highlight. The purpose of the bill is to provide for the right of access to information with the intention of increasing transparency and accountability.
Overall, achieving completion on the now long elapsed 100 day programme will depend on two factors. First, progress on abolishing the Executive Presidential System and adopting a new electoral system remain tied to the outcomes of the constitutional reform process. Second, progress can also be achieved through the simpler but highly significant ‘good governance’ promises; the National Audit Commission (through the audit bill) and the legally enforceable Code of Conduct for MPs, both of which remain pending 2 years into President Sirisena’s government.