The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) decided to oppose a move by the central Government to appoint a “District Coordinator” for the District Coordinating Committee (DCC) to carry out development activities in the north.
NPC Chairman, C.V.K. Sivagnanam, told the Sunday Times that the latest move by the Government would weaken the Provincial administration structure. “Bypassing us is an anti-devolution process.
A conflict situation could arise between the centre and the provincial body,” he added.
The central Government’s appointment replaces the current structure of the DCC, where the Province’s Chief Minister and a Cabinet-ranked minister representing the Province are sitting as the co-Chairmen.
The alarm comes days after a recent workshop organised by the newly set up Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR) to formulate comprehensive five-year District Development Plans (DDP) for each of the Districts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
An ONUR statement said this is the first time that extensive consultations with stakeholders have taken place in the planning of Government Development Programmes.
“Tentative Plans drawn up by the Dept of National Planning and the ONUR were discussed with stakeholders in every District of the North.”“In the past, we had some bitter experiences with such appointments made by successive governments. We don’t want to see that happen again,” he said.
Mr Sivagnanam said he will write to the President and the Prime minister next week, explaining the Council’s position on the Government’s recent move.
The meetings were Chaired by ONUR Director General (DG) Chandrasena Maliyadde, and the DG of National Planning with the participation of the Governor’s office, Chief Secretary and other officials of the NPC, District Secretaries and Divisional Secretaries, and other relevant Districts officials, but none of the MPs or local representatives were invited.
Meetings were held in September in Vavuniya, Mullativu, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Jaffna. Ideas and proposals from the stakeholders in the District will also be included in the final DDP.
The ONUR headed by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, said the DDPs will be presented to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Policy Planning for approval, and these will be accepted as the final DDPs for the North and East, with the same model being replicated countrywide.
A member of the ONUR Board of Governors, Kandiah Neelakandan, told the Sunday Times that, “appointing a District Coordinator is still in the proposal stage and being considered by the institution, while nothing has been finalised so far.”