The present government which is engaged in constitutional reforms, is resolute in its endeavour to further strengthen Provincial Councils by delegating more statutory powers while preserving the unitary state of the country, President Maithripala Sirisena said.
He was addressing the 32nd Chief Ministers’ Conference at Hikka Trans in Hikkaduwa, Galle yesterday.
The conference was held under the auspices of the President.
In the contemporary world, intellectuals, academics, scholars and politically matured individuals who have much learning and experience on various global government structures advocate and foster the concept of devolution of power. However, when it comes to power sharing many hesitate. Those who are even ready to give away even gold and silver are not prepared to share their power with others, President Sirisena said.
The concept of devolution of power is a well refined thought. It flourishes in societies where democracy, basic human rights, freedom of all sorts flourished and treasured. Power sharing is an advanced and cultured human concept. The philosophy on devolution of power never declines; instead day by day it flourishes and improves, he said.
The President said to go against this noble concept of power sharing is tribal, primitive and a mean move.
“It is a complication on education, understanding and intelligence. Today many countries have emerged as economic giants as a result of power sharing and regional development. Most of the developed states have reached that status following this upright vision,” he said. “The concept of devolution is not new to our country. In our country too after gaining independence from colonial powers a number of our state leaders shouldered this task of sharing power with the periphery with dedication although they failed due to various obstacles they encountered,” President Sirisena said.
He said: “I am always ready to share my powers. I have practically proved it. Both as the Health and Agriculture Minister in previous regimes I delegated my powers to the respective provincial ministers in black and white. I gave them complete authority to supervise and control the provincial activities of those ministries.
“During the tenure of former Presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, I proposed to revise the structure, functions and powers of Provincial Councils and restructure the system with more powers for that second tier of parliamentary rule. Regrettably on both occasion my attempts did not materialise.
“We have created a new political culture in the country which the people of the country had never enjoyed. For the first time in the political history of the country we have formed a consensus government of the two main political parties in the country. Today the President is from one party while the Prime Minister represents another party. This is a new political experience for the country. “Some argue that this sort of governance is not possible and difficult to continue. It shows their lack of understanding of the system. If we have the dedication, courage, will and correct vision we can accomplish any challenging task. “In Germany which is the economic giant in the European Union there is also a two party government which works according to a common national agenda. As we are determined and fortified with unity and harmony our government will drive the country towards prosperity, overcoming any obstacle that comes our way.”
Southern Province Chief Minister Shan Wijayalal de Silva delivered the welcome address while Southern Province Governor Dr. Hemakumara Nanayakkara also spoke at the inauguration of the conference.
Eight Provincial Chief Ministers participated while the Northern Province Chief Minister was represented by Provincial Agriculture Ministry secretary M. Patrick Diranjan.
Southern Province Chief Minister Shan Wijayalal De Silva chaired the forum.
The Chief Ministers who participated at the conference were Central Province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake, Eastern Province Chief Minister Z.A. N. Aahamed, North Western Province Chief Minister Dharmasiri Dassanayake, Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Maheepala Herath, Uva Province Chief Minister Chamara Sampath Dassanayake, North Central Province Chief Minister Peshala Jayaratne, and Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya.
Mahinda P. Liyanage, Galle Central Special Correspondent, Daily News