Provincial Councils depriving LG institutions of independence

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UPFA- MP Dallas Alahapperuma said in Parliament yesterday that a serious issue has arisen at the local government institutions due to the stamp duty due to them not being paid by the Provincial Councils.

He said this issue had gravely affected the Southern Province and several other areas. “The most dangerous factor is that thousands of appointments which are not in the cadre are awarded and when the Treasury does not authorise funds for their salaries, their wages are paid by the Provincial councils with the money that is allocated for stamp duty of the local government bodies.”

The gravity of it is that after two years this money is returned to the Treasury and those provincial councils will never get those funds back, he noted. “It is irrelevant which party is in power, this is a serious issue. This is a grave violation of the fundamentals of democracy.”

In response, the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya agreed that it was a serious matter and asked that attention be focussed on this issue.

Meanwhile, Minister Gayantha Karunatillake inquired from Alahapperuma which Provincial Councils he was referring to in his allegations.

In response, Alahapperuma said that this crisis affects all provincial councils  and not just the Southern Province, but even the Wayamba Province is affected by this crisis.

Also commenting on the issue UNP Badulla District MP Chaminda Wijesiri pointed out that this situation occurs traditionally. “No matter which government is in power, this is a right which is granted to the Local Government member. This is a privilege given to LG representatives through an Act and they cannot be deprived  of it. Every Chief Minister does this at some point. When we too represented the Provincial Councils in 2011, we also had to face this situation,” he said.

Therefore, he urged the Speaker to intervene and resolve this issue. “Today the garbage issue cannot be resolved because the funds for the disposal of garbage is stuck at the Provincial Councils and they are not releasing the funds. Hence, the Local Government bodies cannot function independently due to this issue and this matter needs to be sorted out so that the Local Government institutions could function efficiently and independently.”

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya noted that this was an issue that had been prevalent over a considerable period and said relevant measures needed to be taken to resolve this issue.