Parliament must review problems of Provincial Councils

Saturday, 25 June 2011 00:36 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MINISTER Douglas Devananda has suggested that a Parliamentary Select Committee should go into the 13th Amendment as a solution to the grievances of the Tamil people.

A Select Committee is urgently required to review the functioning of the Provincial Councils already established and which are functioning not only in the east but also in the rest of the country. It is time to review the performance of these councils to determine what problems they face in their administration.  The Chief Ministers’ Conference which met some time ago pinpointed several problems. All these problems have to be taken notice of and solutions designed to resolve them. A Parliamentary Select committee which will hold public sittings and allow the Provincial Councilors to give evidence will be useful.  The problem as I see it is that with devolution of power to Provincial Councils the role of the Central Government should shrink but has not. We need a smaller central administration, a smaller Parliament and smaller staff in the Central Government. It is not the Provincial Councils that are white elephants but the outsized Central Government and national Parliament. The concurrent list creates problems not only for the Tamils who want devolution but also for the Provincial Councils in the South. Similarly the lack of any powers over the Police and the land administration create intractable problems for them.

A Pradesiya Sabha in Ampara District cannot prevent or prosecute trespassers on a public cemetery since the cemetery is not vested in the Pradeshiya Sabha. Transfers in the Provincial Education Ministry are interfered with by a governor at the instance of the MP of the area. These problems I gathered from the Sinhalese newspapers. Shouldn’t these and similar problems be discussed in a Parliamentary forum?

R.M.B Senanayake