Scrapping of the Concurrent List to the 13th Amendment, a proposal on distributing land in the Provinces and putting on hold the vesting of police powers to the Provincial Councils are among the highlights of the Communist Party proposals put forward to the Government.
The proposals have been put forward after the Government sought the views of the constituent parties of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) on the implementation of the proposals in the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).Communist Party General Secretary D.E.W.Gunasekara told the Sunday Times that the party believes the issue of the devolution of powers is already included in the 13th Amendment and the party cannot go beyond the 13th Amendment.
He said the party proposals have called for the scrapping of the Concurrent List and vesting the powers either with the respective Provincial Council or with the central government. On its suggestions regarding the LLRC report the party has taken up the position that some of the proposals have already been implemented, some were being implemented, some proposals are yet to be implemented while some were related to controversial issues such as the political solution, where there is no consensus and deeper discussion is needed, he said.
“The land issue has been raised, but it’s only imaginary. We have made suggestions to formulate a policy and this will be only in respect of State land and not private land,” he said. He said according to his party proposal State land should be distributed to the landless and top priority given to the people in the district itself.
“The next preference should be given to those living in the adjoining district. The last is where there is an excess population in a district where they could be accommodated. But this should be done in a manner it does not upset the demography and ethnic balance. This should be acceptable to all communities,” he said.
Mr. Gunasekara said that a similar policy was formulated during the tenure of former Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake as well. “Regarding police powers what we have noted is it is controversial. Let them remain with the State for the moment. Today’s political culture does not permit the distribution of police powers to the electorate or provinces. People do not like it. I personally do not like police powers being given to a chief minister, because he will misuse them,” he said.
“We have no objections to police powers regarding traffic laws and petty thefts being vested. Even today it could be done. They could be administered through the Governor as a safeguard,” he said.
“On the political solution, from our past experience the bilateral talks will not carry us anywhere. The two major parties – the UNP and SLFP – should reach a consensus. You can never solve the problem if there is going to be confrontation between the major parties,” he added.
“The Tamil parties should be drawn into the discussion. You must get media support for such a peace process,” he said. Regarding the question of human rights, media freedom and the right to information mentioned in the LLRC, he said the party was in favour and had no reservations
By Anthony David