Welcome to the
Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) was formed in 1996 in the firm belief that the vital contribution of civil society to the public policy debate is in need of strengthening. CPA is committed to programs of research and advocacy through which public policy is critiqued, alternatives identified and disseminated. CPA is an independent, non-partisan organization which receives funds from international and bilateral funding agencies and foundations.


Published on October 25, 2012 by Centre for Policy Alternatives

Last modified January 24, 2015

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About CPA

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) was formed in the firm belief that there is an urgent need to strengthen institution and capacity-building for good governance and conflict transformation in Sri Lanka and that non-partisan civil society groups have an important and constructive contribution to make to this process. The primary role envisaged for the Centre in the field of public policy is a pro-active and interventionary one, aimed at the dissemination and advocacy of policy alternatives for non-violent conflict resolution and democratic governance. Accordingly, the work of the Centre involves a major research component through which the policy alternatives advocated are identified and developed.


A liberal democratic Sri Lanka


To strengthen the civil society contribution to public policy making through programmes of research and advocacy in the areas of democratic governance and peace with human rights as an overarching priority.


The objectives of the Centre are:

  1. To contribute to public accountability in governance through the strengthening of the awareness in society of all aspects of public policy and policy implementation.
  2. To make inputs into the public policy-making and implementation process in the constitutional, legislative and administrative spheres to ensure responsible and good governance.
  3. To propose to the government and parliament and all other policy-making bodies and institutions, constructive policy alternatives aimed at strengthening and safeguarding democracy, pluralism, the Rule of Law, human rights and social justice.
  4. To focus attention on the social and political consequences of development.
  5. To contribute towards the conflict resolution process in Sri Lanka and the South Asian region, so as to strengthen institution and capacity-building for democratic governance in multi-ethnic and pluralist societies.

In the pursuit of the above objectives, CPA carries out the following activities:

  1. Programmes of research and study of public policy.
  2. Dissemination of research and study through seminars, conferences, the publication and exchange of ideas, including full use of the print and electronic media.
  3. Advocacy of constructive policy alternatives, lobbying of decision-makers and the shaping of public opinion.
  4. Monitoring of the executive, legislature, judiciary, media and other public institutions.
  5. Provision of consultancy services to political parties and other organisations involved in the field of public policy and engaging them in dialogue on the issues identified above.
  6. Forging linkages with local and foreign institutions with similar aims and objectives.

Board of Directors

Shelton Wanasinghe (Retired Civil Servant)
Shelton Wanasinghe joined the Sri Lanka public service in 1946 and served for a period of 24 years. He was the founder and Director of the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration. He later served on the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from May 1971 to June 1986. After retiring from the UN he was appointed as the Chairman of the Presidential Administrative Reforms Committee (1986-1987) and Chairman of the Salaries and Cadres Committee (1987-1989) amongsts others. At present, he holds several honorary positions in various institutions and he is also a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies. His major areas of interest are reforms regarding Taxation, Rural Development, Education, Health and Human Resources Development.

Anushya Coomaraswamy (Accountant and Chairman of the Board)
Anushya Coomaraswamy is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants of the UK and the Society of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka. She has the advantage of having worked for both the public and private sectors of the Country.

Ms. Coomaraswamy worked for more than 20 years in the Private Sector, in industry, commerce and services, in senior management positions. From 1994 till 2002, she was the Group Finance Director of John Keells Holdings Limited, one of the leading conglomerates in the Country and one of the largest capitalised companies on the Colombo Stock Market. Miss Coomaraswamy was one of a three-member representation from John Keells Holdings, on an international consortium that negotiated a US$240 million project for the development of one quay of the Colombo Port, with the Government of Sri Lanka and Multilateral and Bilateral Lending Institutions, with specific responsibility for the Project’s Financial Model.

Having left John Keells Holdings in 2002, Miss Coomaraswamy joined the Ministry of Finance in January 2003 as an Advisor working directly with the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, with particular involvement in Fiscal Policy and Public Debt and as Alternate to the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury on the Board of Directors of the Bank of Ceylon. She was also the first Chairperson of the Public Utilities Commission for Sri Lanka and a member of the Public Enterprise Reform Commission.

Miss Coomaraswamy is a member of the Taxation and Auditing Standards Sub Committees of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce; and of the Urgent Issues Task Force and the Continuing Professional Education Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka.

Cyrene Siriwardhana (Attorney-at-Law)

Cyrene Siriwardhana is a lawyer specialising in appellate law, public law and human rights practising in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka. She graduated in law from Oxford University, and qualified as a barrister of the Inner Temple and thereafter as an Attorney-at-Law in Sri Lanka.

She is a member of the National Committee on Women. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sarvodaya Legal Services Movement, and a member of the Law Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. She has also worked in the British civil service, as a legal adviser in the Ministry of Justice (then Lord Chancellor’s Department) in London, working primarily in the field of human rights co-ordination.

She has published on a number topics including the right to equality, freedom of expression and land rights.

Faiz Mohideen (Retired Civil Servant)

Description to be added

Tissa Jayatilaka (Academic)

Tissa Jayatilaka is currently the Director of the United States – Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission and Visiting Lecturer in English at The University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Sri Lanka.He has been a Visiting Lecturer in English at the Universities of Peradeniya, Kelaniya( beginning in 1977); and in American Studies at the Faculty of Post-Graduate Studies of the University of Colombo beginning in 2007. He has also served as Visiting International Scholar at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.A.(2001) and has lectured at several other Colleges and Universities in the States.

In a varied public service career to-date, Jayatilaka has been a regular newspaper columnist on themes of political and cultural interest, editor and co-editor of books and journals devoted to literature and international relations (International Relations in a Globalising World, the Journal of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies) and participant in other cultural pursuits. He has served as Chairman of the Jury for Presidential Awards for Sri Lankan Sinhala Films in 1999; as a Member of the Panel of Judges of the Annual National Sinhala Drama Festival organised by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs from 1985 to 1990; Member of The Panel (for the evaluation) of English Writing from 1985 to 1990; as Deputy Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Community Development and Socio-Cultural Integration of the Mayor of Colombo in 1997; and from 2006 to 2009 as the Chairman of the Gratiaen Trust of Sri Lanka.

Over the years, Jayatilaka has been the beneficiary of knowledge and experience gathered from his participation in several notable international seminars. They include the seminar on the theme of Visions and Revisions of the United States at The Annual Salzburg Seminar, Salzburg, Austria(1994); the seminar on the theme Germany, Europe and the World held at The International Academy of Leadership in Gummersbach, Germany, at the invitation of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung 1996); the seminar on the theme of International Understanding held at Budapest, Hungary, at the invitation of the U.S – Hungarian Education Foundation(1996); the Colloquium on Democracy in Pluralistic Societies jointly organised by The Commonwealth Secretariat and L’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and held in Yaounde, Cameroon at the invitation of The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat(2000) and the seminar on the theme The Contemporary Writer In English at Trinity College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK, at the invitation of The British Council(1987).

Sakuntala Kadirgamar
Sakuntala Kadirgamar is a senior democracy and governance expert with over 30 years of experience advising on constitutional and governance reform, the design of electoral systems and political party reforms, transitional justice and mainstreaming gender & social inclusion in fragile states and post conflict countries.

She has extensive field experience working in South and Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East and in the USA and Scandinavia.

She is affiliated as an expert to the Mediation Support Unit, United Nations and the Stabilization Unit of Deployable Civilian experts, DFID.

She has served as an Adviser to the United Nations at the National Dialogue Conference of Yemen and as Senior Constitution Advisor to the United Nations Political Office for Somalia and to UNDP in Nepal. She was the Senior Constitution Adviser at the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the Head of the Asia Program (IDEA).

She has consulted to the World Bank and national NGOs on gender and human rights and published on issues relating to democracy building, governance and women’s rights.

She holds a PHD in Jurisprudence and Constitutional law from the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, and degrees in Social Sciences (University of Reading, UK) and Law (University of Sri Lanka).

Executive Director

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu is the founder Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, (CPA). He has presented papers on governance and peace in Sri Lanka at a number of international conferences and is widely quoted in the international and local media.

In 2010, he was awarded the inaugural Citizens Peace Award by the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, and in 2011, he was invited by the German Government to be a Member of the International Jury to choose an universally recognized human rights logo. In September 2013, he was invited by President Obama to attend his “High Level Event On Civil Society”, in New York.

He is also a founder director of the Sri Lanka Chapter of Transparency International and a founding Co- Convenor of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), which has monitored all the major elections in Sri Lanka since 1997. In 2004 he was an Eisenhower Fellow (2004). Currently, he is Chairperson of the Eisenhower Fellows, Sri Lanka, member of the Board of the Berghof Foundation, the South Asia Transparency Advisory Group and a Member of the Gratiaen Trust.

Dr. Saravanamuttu received a Bsc Econ, Upper Second Class Honours degree and Ph. D in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of London, in 1979 and 1986, respectively. He lectured in International Politics at the University of Southampton, UK, from 1984 – 92.

1 Comment

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