By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent
The Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka (Amendment) Bill received House approval yesterday in Parliament, with State Minister for Finance Eran Wickramaratne stating plans to use part of the $ 480 million Millennium Challenge Corporation grant to create an inventory of State-owned land in seven districts.
State Minister of Finance
The Bill amended the Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka Law No. 33 of 1975, which was outdated, with provisions to establish the Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka and a council of the institute, which will be responsible for the management of the affairs of the institute, and for the maintenance of professional standards and discipline of members of the institute; and for the protection and promotion of the interests of the public in relation to the profession of Valuers.
State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne, moving the Motion, held the Bill will popularise university degrees on the subject, which has a high demand in most parts of the world.
“This is an organisation with 45 years of history, both in Sri Lanka as well as abroad. The valuation is a subject that can be awarded a university degree. Now with input from stakeholders, we have made amendments, which were submitted in this House for approval allowing the proposed expansion,” he said.
According to the State Minister, a part of the allocations from the Millennium Challenge Corporation will be made available for the land sector development in Sri Lanka, where valuation is a key factor.
“There was a discussion held on the $ 480 million grant from the Millennium Challenge Corporation. A part of this money, $ 67 million, is allocated for the land-related matters to make room for the transport sector. State land inventory of seven districts will be developed in order to strengthen the Government Valuers Department. Most of it will be computerised, enabling digitalisation of deeds, giving clear holding to landowners,” he said.
“The Valuers need not fear. There is a difference between the method followed to survey land in the past and now. Using digital technologies, you have the ability to measure a particular land from a different part of the world. It is necessary we go forward with technology,” held the Minister highlighting the need for digitalisation.
Moving on, the State Minister, commenting on the country’s situation, held extremism and division is a tool used by many politicians to further agendas. “Zahran and his supporters are an Islamic cult, but not Islamic terrorists. Terrorists have no religion. The 1983 riots led to killing Tamils and burning their property, while the then-Government kept silent. I think we should not keep silent. We have a challenge in front of us, to create a country where all Sri Lankans should be able to live equally, and without fearing one another. We need to have equality among religions,” he added.
In response, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) lawmaker Dr. Sarath Amunugama criticised the State Minister, for not talking about the Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka (Amendment) Bill much, but focussing on the topic to be taken up on Friday.
“These amendments are limited, but should have further expanded for the betterment of our economic development needs. Our traditions and laws followed for valuations are outdated. So, it is essential to update the valuation system to suit the current requirements and to include infrastructure and land,” said Dr. Amunugama.