Seven Chief Ministers had already expressed their vehement opposition to the proposed Development (Special Provisions) Bill, which would confer extraordinary powers on a super ministry to curtail the powers vested in the provincial councils, Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya said yesterday.
Addressing a press conference at the Western Provincial Council (WPC) in Colombo, CM Devapriya stressed that though the bill had no effect on the WPC, he would oppose it for the sake of other councils as it was aimed at curtailing the powers of all provincial councils.
Accordingly, the Chief Ministers of Central, Southern, North Western, North Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa had informed that they would not support the bill, he said.
The bill had been referred to the Chief Ministers by the Prime Minister’s Office against the normal procedure, the CM said. The accepted practice was for the govern ment to address any matter first to the Governors and then to the Chief Ministers, Devapriya said.
Referring to the draft of the Development (Special Provisions) Bill, Devapriya said the draft bill had proposed the establishment of separate boards for regional development affairs.
The bill would establish the Southern, Wayamba, Central, Eastern and Northern Development Boards. The administrative Districts of Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Monaragala and Ratnapura, would come under the purview of the Southern Development Board. Similarly, the Districts of Puttalam, Kurunegala and Kegalle would come under the Wayamba Board while Matale, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Badulla would come under the purview of the Central Development Board. Development in the districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara would come under the Eastern Board, while Jaffna, Killnochchi, Mannar, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu would come under the purview of the Northern Development Board, he said.
Devapriya said that according to the provisions of the Development (Special Provisions) Bill, these Boards would function for three years, subject to the decisions and guidelines of the agency for development which would also be established through the bill.
The WPC would discuss the matter on January 03 with the council members and so far none of the members were agreeable to the bill, he said.
Devapriya noted that the draft bill was mainly aimed at curtailing the powers of the Provincial Councils and it couldn’t be happening under a good governance government. “During the last regime there had been an unofficial super ministry and that was one of the main reasons for the defeat of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. Now this government is trying give it a legal effect by passing the Development (Special Provisions) Bill through parliament.”.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) would not support the bill, the CM added.