Reform the local government system

This article will also look at local government and how to make it more responsive to people’s needs, instead of just being a vehicle for politicians’ ambitions. The majority believe that local government is only a stepping stone to higher things, and if they achieve anything, it is in view of popularity to develop their careers.

But what they do should rather be done by the administration, which should deal with the provision of services to the population. Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto contemplated this, but I was wrong to assume that he understood his own manifesto. Karu Jayasuriya I guess understood, but when I suggested that he move on to the reforms that had already been proposed to the previous Minister of Public Administration and he put them aside at the start of the stupid election, Karu claimed he couldn’t do anything because the prime minister wouldn’t allow him to.

In order to prevent the misappropriation of services by those who selectively provide them for their own benefit, I suggest that local authorities should also be enshrined in the constitution.

Elections are a democratic way of life

I also foresee the entrenchment of consultative processes, through committees created from below, and not simply appointed by elected representatives as was envisioned in the failed reform effort a decade ago when I told the minister who asked my advice, Mr. Athaullah, of the need for more radical reforms. But nothing came of this like nothing came of the many reform pledges that Mahinda Rajapaksa promised before becoming president.

Powers of local authorities

163 (1) The Provincial Councils cannot withdraw the competences conferred on the Local Authorities, which will continue to exercise the competences conferred on them by the relevant laws in matters of social services and social equipment. Parliament must legislate the entrenchment of these powers as well as new legislation that clarifies the status of these authorities. This law will limit the number of members of these authorities to half or less than half of the current number as of the next election of these authorities and will provide that these elections will be held every four years.

164 Each local authority elects by STV three members to chair the committees of

a) Social Services and Amenities

b) Protection

c) Finance

The person elected first will be the President of the Council and will chair the one he chooses of the first two Committees, assigning the other to the second person elected. The third person elected will chair the finance committee. The other members of the Council are divided into members of the three committees on an equal basis, the decision being taken by drawing lots if an agreement cannot be reached otherwise. The Finance Committee exercises oversight over Board funds and makes recommendations for adoption, as appropriate, by the full Board.

The chairpersons of the first two committees will work through the divisional secretary to ensure that social services and facilities are provided in the areas defined in the 4th schedule of the constitution and in the local government acts, and that provisions are made for the care and protection of women and children and the vulnerable.

(2) The chairpersons and committees of any local authority should work in conjunction with the advisory committees set up in each division of Grama Niladhari. These committees will consist of six representatives in addition to the Grama Niladhari. The Ministry of Public Administration may establish categories for choosing representatives, but at least three must be women and at least two must be a woman under the age of 30. They are elected at a meeting of all voters in a GN division at which all voters have one vote each. The six candidates obtaining the highest number of votes and complying with the above requirements constitute the committee. The Committee meets at least twice a month and is chaired by the Grama Niladhari.

(3) The Divisional Secretary will assign a Service Delivery Officer from his/her secretariat to liaise with each GN division and attend its advisory committee meetings. This officer conveys the Division’s requirements in each service area to the responsible Secretariat officer.

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