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Asanga Abeygoonasekera, Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe, Prof. Gunapala Nanayakkara and Dr. Anura Ekanayake at the panel discussion. | Pic by Chandana Wijesinghe

Experts last week stated that Sri Lanka needed to look at the implementation and usage innovative tools that needed to monitor and keep a track on good governance is practiced in corporates and institutions island-wide, which would also include the participation of the people.

Former Executive Director of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), Asanga Abeygoonesekera explained some of the innovative tools that could come in handy when establishing good governance in the country’s institutions.

In his presentation, Abeygoonasekera said that Sri Lanka had the potential to be an example for good governance if proper tools were used to ensure that good practice is followed in local institutions.

“This is the third time I am speaking of good governance in this venue this month. It shows how important the topic is,” he told the participants at the conference.

Speaking further, he pointed out that countries around the globe were shifting from factor-driven economies to efficiency-driven economies and towards innovation-driven economies.

He pointed out that as far as South Asia was concerned Sri Lanka and Bhutan were two countries that were making the shift from factor-driven economy to efficiency-driven economy.

However, he opined that the country needed to move further towards innovative economy where young innovators are encouraged and their patents protected.

One of the key tools suggested by Abeygoonasekera was the use of the latest portals such as websites and internet through which the public could also take part in the process.

He cited an example where several countries had websites for the public to state instances where they had given bribes to officials. “In countries like India, which has a strong Right to Information Act, the people actually name the officials,” he said.

“We launched a similar website in Sri Lanka recently and such tools would help the people to be part of the process,” he said.
Sri Lanka today has seen a lot of changes in terms of politics, policies and the future outlook of the country’s economy, thanks mainly to the Presidential election in January this year, and later on due to the General Election which brought about a certain sense of stability to the economy.

If there was one key factor which the country’s progress during the past few months was centered upon, it would be the concept of good governance. Good governance, which had been a term that had become a mantra of sorts in the country’s political arena has also extended to the country’s other sectors as well.

The change in the political sphere has now started seeping into institutional structures in the public and private sectors of the country. Today, that mantra is being uttered by these institutions as well.

Recently, the Institute of Management of Sri Lanka (IMSL) conducted a conference titled ‘Good Governance: Challenges and Strategies’ which saw the participation of personalities representing several segments of the corporate sector.

Establishment of a budget office
Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe who was the Chief Guest at the event said that the government was looking at establishing a parliamentary budget office in order to control the public finances.
“We are proposing an oversight committees following the model of the European Union Parliament, a parliamentary budget office because it is the Parliament’s duty to keep control of public finances and making the Jayewardene Centre a research and training center for Parliament,” he said during the keynote address.

The conference focused on the aspects that needed to be taken into consideration when ensuring good governance at institutional levels in the country.

One of the key factors that were brought to the fore during the discussion was the tools that could be used to monitor the manner in which the concept of good governance is implemented.
Good governance, even though synonymous with those in power in the country, and in organizations, cannot be established to the fullest without the participation of the public.

While Abeygoonasekera explained the tools, aspects such as public participation and wider inclusivity too were topics that were discussed.

Speaking at the conference, Professor of English at the University of Kelaniya, Maithree Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of inclusivity, where all segments of the society are part of the process. She emphasized the importance of inclusivity of a wider section of people in organizational level when ensuring the establishment of good governance.

Prof. Wickremesinghe in her presentation to the audience pointed out that in the participation of women, who constituted 51% of the population, had a mere five percent representation in all strata of politics.

A methodology
While she stated that good governance was considered to the prescription for all ills, it was usually looked at as an end product. “Good governance should not be looked at as an outcome of a process. Instead, it should be part of the process towards another outcome,” she said.

Accordingly, good governance becomes a methodology through which the greater goals and targets of a country, or an institution is achieved. “Otherwise we will be stuck,” she added.

“It should be part of a cohesive process aimed at achieving wider aspirations in terms of freedom, equity and reconciliation,” Prof. Wickremesinghe in her presentation added.