Comments on the Manifestos

The article today is an effort to draw and respond very briefly on some aspects of four of the manifestos out of the candidates standing for President. The manifestos are largely forgotten with time.


The President works with Parliament, Provinces, Local Elected Authorities. His/her votes are allocated by Parliament. How does the President propose to cohabit and energise governance and deliver services to citizens? Do the manifestos a reflect of the beliefs of the coalitions around the candidates or it only about the candidates? Apart from Rajiva Wijesingha there are no alternate proposals on reform bar a reference to completing what the current Parliament attempted. Suffice to say we are over governed, overstaffed and inefficient at present.


“I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn’t want to get shouted at. And I wrapped a whole tissue roll around my underwear, just to keep my underwear dry until I got home. I once sellotaped tissue to my underwear. I didn’t know what else to do.” a schoolgirl in Leeds, UK.

Women and girls suffer from lack of access to services and facilities to help them cope with logistical requirements during their menstrual periods. This especially affects those in rural settings and girls attending school. Some of the problems they face are: inadequate preparations for young girls not yet experiencing menstrual hygiene; lack of or inadequate water to clean and wash the body; lack of materials for managing menstrual hygiene; no private space and wash rooms; inappropriate facilities for disposal of materials for those who have used pads; and lack of access to pain relief.

The issues are more than sanitary pads. There are myriad social and cultural reasons why products might not be available at home, many of which are linked with the stifling stigma that persists around menstruation.

Neither Government offices, schools or private sector have women friendly sanitary facilities, apart from designated toilets. Period poverty is quite simple: if you can’t afford food, you can’t afford menstrual products. It disenfranchises and disempowers, affecting access to education and to opportunity.

Social cohesion, National security

Only a cohesive society built upon mutual trust can harness the strength of its diversity, so that its people can build a better future. And this trust has to begin with a discourse anchored on cohesion, not division; on unity, not discord; on respect, not distrust; and on building bridges and common spaces, not walls and watchtowers. But often, we see political leaders articulate division and conflict for their own personal agenda. Hence, all societal actors must play a part in managing diversity - from government leaders to individuals, from the media to educational institutions. We need to take ownership of our social harmony.

First, there must be accommodation, emphasising shared values such as empathy, kindness and respect, which are universal to all religions and cultures.

Second, there must be dialogue and interaction to foster familiarity and friendships with one another. Contact through informal interactions can go a long way to improve relations among diverse groups.

Third, social cohesion has to be cemented by a shared conception of the common good, and a felt reality of collective belonging. Upholding the common good means holding our differences not in opposition to one another, but bringing our differences together to build a future that we all share.

Climate change as a source of financial risk

Far-reaching impact in breadth and magnitude: climate change will affect all agents in the economy (households, businesses, governments), across all sectors and geographies. Foreseeable nature: while the exact outcomes, time horizon and future pathway are uncertain, there is a high degree of certainty that some combination of physical and transition risks will materialise in the future.

The magnitude and nature of the future impacts will be determined by actions taken today, which thus need to follow a credible and forward-looking policy path.


Elements of manifestos

A strong nation, a fair society – Sajith Premadasa

The 20-points of the manifesto:

1. Affordability of housing, education, healthcare, transportation and telecommunications, and improving wages Tor the private sector through high-quality jobs

2. A home-owning society by 2025 and freehold land for permit holders

3. Universal pre-school for all

4. A university degree, a professional qualification, or vocational training for every school leaver

5. Universal healthcare: A free medical check-up for all over 35 and increased benefits for pregnant mothers

6. Accountable leadership: A cabinet of ministers who are free of corruption and conflicts of interest.

7. Zero tolerance on drugs and corruption: Swift legal proceedings and no parole or pardon for convicted drug traffickers

8. Zero tolerance on religious extremism and violence: Everyone will be free of fear in their homes and places of worship

9. A tough and smart national security strategy: A National Security Council will be established by law, and the right people will be put in the right places

10. Dignity for the public sector: Scholarships for international exposure and legal assistance for public servants to defend their actions made in an official capacity

11. Government for the people: Documents, permits and licenses will be available online, or within a day

12. Financial markets: A new national development bank and a competitive tax regime to accelerate investments to Port City

13. Inspiring women: The Women’s Charter will be implemented, 25% minimum quotas will be introduced for Provincial Councils, Parliament and the National List whilst ensuring safe public transport for women

14. Empowering small businesses: All businesses with a monthly sale of less than 4 million rupees, will be exempted from paying VAT

15. Empowering the farmer: Free seed paddy and fertilizer through farmer cooperatives

16. Environment and energy: Environmentally- acceptable community-centered solutions for the human-elephant conflict, effective waste management, and a switch to 100% renewable energy by 2040

17. Encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation: A Rs. 10 Billion National Venture Capital Fund and a Rs. 10 Billion National Innovation Fund

18. A market-ready youth population: ‘Centers of Excellence’ at each Divisional Secretariat level to improve communication, language, technology and soft skills of the youth

19. Appreciation of migrant workers: Subsidized home loans, an increased duty-free allowance and legal assistance at embassies

20. Public transport: A multifaceted public transport policy through bus modernization, railway electrification, Light Rail Transit and a smart traffic management system


Vistas of prosperity and splendour - Gotabaya Rajapaksa

1. Priority to National Security- Our government will adopt new methodologies to safeguard national security without compromising the democratic space available to our people

2. Friendly, Non-aligned, Foreign Policy- Our foreign policy will be based on non-alignment and mutual friendship and trust among nations

3. An administration Free from Corruption- Today the people of the country expect all government officials and politicians to be of high moral standing and to provide a public service free from corruption and graft. This is the form of governance that will be carried out by our government.

4. A New Constitution that Fulfills the Wishes of the People-. It is our desire to bring about constitutional reforms in accordance with the wishes of the people.

5. A Productive Citizenry and Vibrant Human Resource- A country’s progress is dependent upon its peoples’ knowledge, skills and capabilities. These attributes change overtime and Sri Lanka too needs to develop its peoples’ knowledge, skills and competencies to compete at a global level.

6. People Centric Economic Development- The thrust of our growth model will be focused on promoting agriculture and fisheries to become global players. This will be done through incentivizing entrepreneurs and infusing new technology to enhance production and productivity.

7. Technology Based Society-We pledge to bring about a technological revolution across all sectors. A country cannot progress without adapting to the rapid technological changes taking place. It is with this in mind that our policies will create the environment required to develop the IT competencies and language skills of future generation

8. Development of Physical Resources-In order to develop the country it is paramount that we utilize every square inch of our country in a productive manner by integrating all regions. This will ensure that regional disparities are eliminated and income distribution takes place in an equitable manner.

9. Sustainable Environmental Management- We shall bring about amendments to existing laws, and if necessary new legislation will be introduced in order to strengthen and protect our forest cover, rivers, streams and wildlife.

10. Disciplined, Law Abiding and Values Based Society- Our intention is to ensure that the legal system works devoid of considerations of political affiliations, social standing and connections. We will ensure that differently-abled citizens and the young people of all religious beliefs and ethnicities are accorded the ability to develop their talents in a safe environment.


National People’s Power (NPP) and the leader of the JVP - Comrade Anura Dissanayake

1. Manifesto mainly focuses on educational reforms, health, housing facilities, sports, arts and culture, establishing a secure nation for all including women, children, youth, elders, people with special needs and the LGBT community, creating a stable economy, improving agriculture and livestock development, fisheries and aquatic resources development, public administration, effective police service, combating drug menace, national security, foreign policy, media freedom and many other sectors.

2. Introduce amendments to the law which will make it mandatory for the President to implement his election manifesto.

3. Cabinet will be limited to 30 and benefits to former Presidents will be slashed.

4. Ensure national unity and reject extremism.

5. Centred on anti-corruption policies, and mechanisms to preserve law, democracy, unity and national security.

6. Transform politics “into a public service from a business”.

7. Abolish the issuance of vehicle permits and post-retirement pensions for parliamentarians, and cut-down expenditures of a President.

8. Limit the number of Cabinet ministers to 30, 30 deputy ministers but no state and non-Cabinet ministers

9. People’s freedom to follow a religion of their choice would be ensured and that their cultures would be protected.

10. Obtain loans from other countries only to achieve “capital and technical gains”.

11.Technically equip sectors such as graphite, fisheries, and agriculture, to generate more revenue to the country, and pay off the country’s debt and assist people in paying off their loans.

12.Develop the IT sector to generate a revenue of USD 15 billion

13.Identify goods which can be manufactured locally, and minimise imports of such products, to cut-down expenditure of the government.

14. Uplift education in schools, and also incorporate sports into the country’s culture, to enable the people to maintain a healthy lifestyle.


National People’s Party presidential candidate - Gen. Mahesh Senanayake

The tenfold pledge is as follows,

1. Maximise national resources, strengthen agriculture and local production and develop a sustainable export-based economy.

2. Through proper economic management, increase per capita income and reduce poverty.

3. Implement a national programme to build a disciplined, secure and undivided Sri Lanka, free of fear.

4. One and equal law for the whole country.

5. Through an education system that adapts to the changes in the world, empower our youth, and encourage entrepreneurship.

6. Create a society which empowers women, and ensures women are treated with utmost dignity and respect.

7. Pay special attention to children, senior citizens, and people with special needs.

8. A meritocratic social environment, where the right persons are appointed to the right positions.

9. A public service that is empowered by the latest technology, efficient, highly respected and corruption-free.

10. A non-aligned international policy that puts Sri Lanka’s interest to the fore.

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