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I have looked thus far at the Sri Lankan Parliament, and its failure to fulfil properly the essential duties of a Legislature. These are the making of Laws, and financial oversight, through both the Budget and control of financial expenditure.

Most Members of Parliament do not however understand that these are their main responsibilities. Rather they believe that their principal function is representational, ie that they are in Parliament to represent the interests of those who voted for them.

This is true, but the problem is that they do not understand their collective responsibilities as Parliamentarians, to make sure that laws are made, and public funds are expended, in the interests of the people. Rather, they think only of their individual responsibility, which is connected with the need to continue to be Parliamentarians.

This explains the fact that most interventions in Parliament relate to the individual needs of constituents. There are exceptions in the questions asked by opposition Members, which are intended sometimes to draw attention to general problems, but even they often lapse into personal considerations. The fact that hardly any government Members ask questions is indicative of the general view that policy – and its practice on a wider scale – is not their business.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

April 2019
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