IMF talks in Lanka to approve a cabinet amendment to reduce prez power

IMF talks in Lanka to approve a cabinet amendment to reduce prez power
Posted on 21-06-2022

IMF talks in Lanka to approve a cabinet amendment to reduce prez power

In The News:

  • The 21 st amendment to the Constitution, which aims at giving power to Parliament over the executive president, has been approved by the Sri Lankan Cabinet.
  • The bill will be presented to the Parliament shortly.

Today's Article:

  • India extends assistance to Sri Lanka in times of economic crisis - Background, factors and causes
  • News Summary

In Focus: Economic Crisis at Sri Lanka


  • Sri Lanka is currently facing the double whammy, rising prices and high levels of debt. The country's people are feeling the brunt of this as its domestic situation becomes increasingly dire.
  • September 2021 saw Sri Lanka declare an Economic Emergency to ensure the supply of essential foods.
    • It enabled the government to regulate the supply of basic food products and to set prices to curb rising inflation which soared to 14.2% in January.
  • Protesters have gathered in large numbers to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the economic mismanagement.

India offers assistance

  • India sent 11000 MT rice to Sri Lanka ahead of the New Year celebrations.
  • India had already extended $1 billion credit facility for Sri Lanka. This will allow the government to purchase food, medicine, and other essential commodities.
  • This was in addition to a $500 million credit it received in February 2022 to purchase petroleum products.
    • Sri Lanka has also received 270000 MT of fuel from India.
  • India had donated 100 tonnes of liquid nitrogen fertilizers in nano-nutrient form to Sri Lanka in November 2021.
  • The RBI extended a currency swap worth $400 million to Sri Lanka and deferred payments due by the central bank of Sri Lanka in excess of several hundred million dollars.

News Summary

  • As Sri Lanka's bailout negotiations began, an International Monetary Fund team (IMF), met with the government to discuss possible solutions. Cabinet approved a constitutional amendment to weaken the presidential power .
    • In April 2022, Sri Lanka stopped paying $12 billion in foreign debt.
    • It is now seeking $3 billion from IMF to improve its public finances and to access bridge financing.
    • The IMF team met with PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss how to structure Sri Lanka's 17th loan agreement with the global lender.

Highlights of the 21 st Amend

  • Most likely to reduce the Presidency into a ceremonial role
    • This amendment will likely reduce the Presidency's status to one of ceremonial.
    • It will keep the power of the President over all three-armed forces.
    • The Prime Minister will have almost all the other important powers related to governance and cabinet ministries.
    • The bill seeks to abolish, in essence, the presidential system for governance.
      • Since 1978, Sri Lanka has had a presidential system of government.
  • President has no personal discretion
    • The proposal states that the President does not have any discretion to appoint or dismiss the Prime Minister.
  • The 20th Amendment is to be canceled
    • The 21 st While seeking to cancel the 20th Amendment it also aims to reinstate the 19th Amendment.
      • In 2020, the 20 th Amendment was approved.
      • It had repealed the 19 th Amendment, and granted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa unrestricted power.
    • The amendment seeks to limit the power of the President while empowering Parliament.
  • Other reforms
    • This amendment is intended to prevent dual citizens delaying their participation in elections for public office.

Previous Constitutional Amendments to Sri Lanka

19 The Amendment

  • It was adopted in 2015. This legislation weakened the power of the President while strengthening the role of Parliament.


  • The term limits of the President and Parliament were reduced from six to five years.
  • Reintroduced a limit of two terms for Presidents.
  • The Constitutional Council was revived and independent commissions were established.
  • Only after four-and-a-half years, President has the power to disband Parliament
  • Stop dual citizens from running for election

Removal of 19 th Amendment

  • The current president Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated his intention to repeal the 19th Amendment in his presidential campaign for 2019.
  • Rajapaksa's family claimed that the amendment was specifically designed to target them.
    • Mahinda Rajapaksa was unable to contest the November 2019 Presidential Elections due to the 19 th Amendment.
    • His younger brother Gotabaya was the presidential candidate.
  • In October 2020, the Sri Lankan parliament abolished the 19 Th Amendment with a majority of two-thirds.
    • This was accomplished by passing the 20 th amendment to Sri Lanka's constitution.

20th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution

  • The 20th Amendment (20A), which was replaced by the 19th Amendment (19A), had once again increased the executive power of the President in an unprecedented manner.
  • The 20 Th amendment:
    • The independent Constitutional Council for a Parliamentary Council was abolished.
    • Dual citizens were granted electoral rights.
    • The Prime Minister's role was reduced to one of ceremonial.
    • The Constitutional Council abolishes the restrictions on presidential power in relation to key appointments to institutions independent by the President.
      • It granted the President broad powers to appoint key individuals.
Thank You