The chief ministers of the provincial councils have resolved that police and land powers are no longer required for the provincial councils to discharge their duties, provided they are given sufficient funds to carry out development work. The decision has been taken at a time when there is a debate on the need to devolve powers to the provinces, particularly the north and the east.
Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake who was elected the chairman of the Chief Ministers Forum told Daily Mirror that they had not discussed the devolution of police and land powers at the forum meeting held in Embiliptiiya over the weekend and only passed a resolution requesting the central government to allocate funds which the provincial councils are entitled to, without any restrictions, so that the development work planned by them could be carried out effectively.
“We don’t care about land and police powers as long as we have sufficient funds to carry out development work in the provinces,” he said.
It was reported that the Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, who had called for full devolution of power (including police and land powers) for the councils, some time ago, had been absent.
This resolution of the Chief Ministers Forum follows the Finance Commission’s recommendation that the central government has a bigger say in the development work carried out by the provincial councils. This was recommended by the Finance Commission in a report submitted to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the apportionment of funds to the provinces.