(CMs at 32nd Provincial Chief Minister’s Conference, May 2016)
Editorial, Ceylon Today: 13th Amendment Not Meant only for N&E.
The Chief Ministers of all nine provinces have emphasized the need of implementing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and they also pointed out that when the new Constitution is drafted the 13th Amendment should also be given due consideration.
The Chief Ministers and the representatives of some of them met the Advisory Committee to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the proposed new Constitution at the Parliament building on Friday (8).
When the 13th Amendment was annexed to the Constitution following the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987, there surfaced misunderstanding the majority of people considering it as a remedial measure mainly to overcome the North and East ethnic crisis. Those who opposed the 13th Amendment didn’t have the farsightedness to accept it as a solution for the North and East Provinces as well as for the other provinces in the country to devolve powers on vital administrative areas.
It is interesting to note that it is after 29 years the importance of the 13th Amendment has been understood countrywide by the Chief Ministers and they have emphasized that the Amendment should be given due place in the proposed new Constitution, and it should also be implemented in full.
Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran who has been voicing for the implementation of the 13th Amendment was not present at the meeting on Friday as he is now undergoing medical treatment. He was represented by Northern Province Minister of Education
A few other Chief Ministers of certain Provinces were also not present at the meeting on Friday. But the Chief Ministers of all nine Provinces unanimously voiced their support of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Right from the beginning of the introduction of the 13th Amendment, the Tamil National Alliance has been emphasizing the implementation of the Amendment to make the Provincial Council system a success in the country.
Devolving land and Police powers to the provinces remain as the prime features in the 13th Amendment. As the Northern and the Eastern Provinces remain firm on devolving the Police and land powers to the provinces, the Central Government seems to be not in favour of Provincial Councils possessing more powers in these two prime areas.
As far as Northern and Eastern Provinces are concerned the Central Government seems to be thinking that devolving powers in the areas of land and Police will gradually lead to pose threats to the integrity of the country.
However, apart from the North and the East, Chief Ministers of other provinces have also now realized the importance of devolving Police and land powers to their provinces as well, as it was already mentioned in the 13th Amendment.
The proper policing at provincial level could not be handled from the Centre. In recent years the law and order situation in the country has greatly deteriorated.
Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran who was a career judge finally reaching the Apex Court of the country has been emphasizing the need of devolving Police powers to the provinces on the basis of his own experience as a former judicial officer and presently as the Chief Minister.
The Chief Ministers of other provinces had told the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Constitution last Friday that without the police and land powers the Provincial Council system will become meaningless without any control over maintaining the law and order and on dealing with the land related matters.
The Chief Ministers had also mentioned that by devolving powers in the areas of Police and land the country’s integrity would be strengthened further.
So it could be understood that not only the North and East Provincial Councils but the other Provincial Councils in the country as well now realize, that the 13th Amendment is more towards maintaining the integrity of the country by devolving powers at provincial level and the Amendment doesn’t pose a threat to the sovereignty of the country.
As the government is now in the process of looking into every aspect of bringing out a healthy new Constitution, the unanimous call from the Chief Ministers of all nine provinces come as a wakeup call for the government towards devolving powers in the country through the 13th Amendment.