Gayantha Karunatilleke | Rajitha Senaratne

A ‘Code of Conduct’ for Parliamentarians, the key objective listed in the 100-Day program of President Maithripala Sirisena, continues to be on the backburner over more than a year after he was sworn in as President.

When contacted, Ministry of Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms and Joint Cabinet Spokesman Gayantha Karunathilake admitted there had been little progress in formulating such a code of conduct for MPs. He noted he was unsure when the process of introducing such a code of conduct would even begin.

Under the 100-Day program of the government that came to power after Sirisena’s victory at the Presidential Election, a ‘Code of Conduct’ to be observed by all representatives of the people, was to have been introduced on January 22, 2015. Such a code is yet to see the light of day.

However, in July last year, the then Cabinet of President Sirisena’s government approved a proposal to introduce a code of conduct for representatives of local government institutions. That proposal was made by Minister of Public Administration, Provincial Councils and Democratic Governance Karu Jayasuriya and Minister of Provincial Councils and Provincial Council Development Janaka Bandara Tennakoon.

At the time this Cabinet proposal was approved, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne stated that a code of conduct for MPs would also be introduced, but that the government would first start by introducing such a code for local government representatives before formulating one for MPs.
At present, local government institutions come under the Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government, headed by Cabinet Minister Faiszer Mustapha and State Minister Priyankara Jayaratne.

When contacted, Minister Priyankara Jayaratne said there had been no discussions over formulating a code of conduct. “Our focus right now is pushing through the new electoral system before the next Local Government election in June. We think a lot of these issues will no longer arise after that because the system will ensure that a representative is responsible for his or her seat, and it will mean most will be principled individuals who will work for the community,” he opined.