COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – The burden of Sri Lanka’s elected ruling class on citizens, which is already high compared to region and world, will worsen after planned electoral reforms, leaving even less citizens to shoulder each legislator, an analysis of data shows.
The burden of legislators on the population will climb to 19 times that of India, from the current 17, if the number of seats in parliament is raised to 255 from the current 225 in a 20th amendment to the constitution.
In India, with a population of 1.2 billion there is 1.59 people to shoulder the burden of each member of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha totalling 795.
Bangladesh has 350 legislators and 158 million population leaving 452,000 people to support each member of the Jatiyo Shangsad.
In Pakistan, which has 442 member in two houses, there are 429,000 people to support each member.
The legislator burden in Sri Lanka is already the highest in the region after Maldives (85 members). Maldives however does not have provincial assemblies.
In the United States, which has 435 representatives and 100 senators there are nearly 600,000 people for each member..
In Sri Lanka with 225 members already and a population of 20.6 million there are only 91,800 people to support each member of the elected ruling class.
With plans to increase the number of seats in the parliament to 255, the number of adults and children left to shoulder the burden of each member will fall to 81,000.
That is 19.7 times the burden in India.
Based on a labour force of 8.4 million, the number of people left to shoulder the burden of each legislator will fall to 32,900 from the current 37,333.
Sri Lanka already has a bloated public service, which also is among the highest per capita in the world.
Sri Lanka also has a series of provincial councils in addition to local government bodies.
Critics point out that the political entrepreneurs who got control of the taxation system and legislature with the departure of the British have given themselves a series of feudal-style privileges not available to the rest of the citizenry, including tax free cars, pensions after five years for themselves and their personal staff, to mention a few.
Such pensions are usually transferred to their family members by appointing them as co-ordinating secretaries or similar positions.
The expansion of the Parliament in Sri Lanka comes when there are attempts to cut down the legislatures in other countries.
In the United Kingdom, there are 650 members of the House of Commons (one for every 99,000 persons), and no limit on the House of Lords.
The House of Lords at one time had 1,330 members but it was cut down to around under 800 in 1999. The hereditary positions have already been reduced to below 100 and the government is under pressure to reduce the number of new life peers created.
Members of the House of Lords however are not paid a salary, but an attendance allowance. According to data which is made public every month, all members of the House of Lords claim only half their entitlement, in a telling demonstration of peer pressure.
There are also attempts to reduce the number of the House of Commons. A first attempt was made to reduce the number by 50 to 600 and it is due be reviewed in 2018.