Local councillors forget obligations, responsibilities
ex-members of Pradeshiya Sabhas (PS) and Urban Councils whom the Sunday
Observer contacted after selecting them at random in the Central,
Northern and Eastern provinces expressed mixed views on achievements of
their councils on people's welfare, resource mobilization, shortcomings
and changes deemed necessary to the constitution governing the bodies.
The absence of a provision under the LG Constitution to adopt a
'no-confidence motion' against an incompetent council head is a major
draw back, a member said.
Most of the members, some of them ex-chairmen of their respective
councils, expressed optimism that they would be in a position to
organise and mobilize their own resources as well as funds without
depending on either the central government or the provincial
administration to fulfil the obligations and responsibilities by their
The responsibilities and obligations of the local government bodies
cover a wide-range of areas on public thoroughfare, public health and
public utility services, according to the Ministry of Local Government
and Provincial Councils sources.
Hunger eradication, health, housing and primary education are
significant among the millennium development goals to be achieved by the
local government bodies, the sources said.
Excerpts of views of the ex-members:
A.P. Sakthivel (CWC Asst.Secretary), Ex-Vice Chairman, Nuwara
Eliya Pradeshiya Sabha: "The constitution governing the local
government bodies relates to rural towns and villages only and not the
plantations. There are 18 small towns and many villages under the
jurisdiction of the Nuwara Eliya PS.
But we did development work in the plantation areas since the
constitution provides for services to all taxpayers.
A majority of the voters are from the plantations. My personal view
is that this aspect of the LG Constitution needs to be amended. But we
were able to perform huge development works in the plantation areas with
the funds allocated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa under the Gama Neguma
and Maga Neguma programs and also the funds allocated to the PS by
Minister Arumugan Thondaman, Deputy Minister Muthu Sivalingam and CWC
Ebert Perera (SLFP), Ex-Vice Chairman, Ambagamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha:
Around Rs. 150 million was spent during the last five years on
development work in village areas in the jurisdiction of the Ambagamuwa
Funds were allocated mainly under the Gama Neguma and Maga Neguma
programs of President Rajapaksa and also funds were allocated by
Minister Arumugan Thondaman. It has not been possible to provide
transport service to schoolchildren on a three km stretch from Nayawala
to Wilson Kade junction because the Central PC maintained that the area
was not under its jurisdiction.
This was recently sorted out by Economic Development Minister Basil
Rajapaksa. The government hospital at Ginigathena serves all three
communities but it lacks many basic facilities. The PC has not taken
steps to upgrade it. There is no national school in the PS area."
G. Naguleswaran, (CWC), Ex-chairman, Ambagamuwa Pradeshiya Sabha:
Fund allocations to the PS through the Central PC is not adequate. The
PS has formulated far-reaching programs on health, primary education,
housing, environmental conservation and garbage disposal. Only Rs. 6
million was allocated annually for the PS but Minister Thondaman had
allocated over Rs. 600 million during the past five years."
Sahul Hameed Mohamed Azwar (National Congress), former Vice-Chairman,
Kathankudy UC: The most congested place in the whole island may be the
Kathankudy UC area. There are 20,000 houses in a 5.5 sq.km area.
There are garment and shoe-factories. There is an acute shortage of
drinking water, waste management and latrine problem. We have negotiated
with local and international NGOs and we expect to solve these problems
by mid this year. We are confident that we can achieve more things for
the people generating our own funds and mobilising our resources."
Abu Haneefa (SLMC), Ex Vice-Chairman, Eravur Pradeshiya Sabha:
We get limited revenue because ours is a small area. Human resources
available and fund allocations are inadequate. The drawback with regard
to the LG Constitution is that there is no provision for tabling a
'no-confidence motion' against an incompetent and corrupt council head.
He has all the powers and even government officials who are under his
influence are indifferent to us. So no progress has been achieved in the
past five years."
Kandasamy Thatchinamoorthy (SLFP), Ex Vice-Chairman,
Arachchikattuwa Pradeshiya Sabha: Fund allocation to the council
members is inadequate. Many envisaged development activities, including
road rehabilitation, improving transport services , health facilities
and garbage disposal remain unattended. Council members also should be
G.T. Linganathan (PLOTE), ex-member, Vavuniya Urban Council:
Due to internal problems with TNA members and their chairman it has not
been possible to do any development or welfare work for the people.
Unless there is compromise between council members belonging to
different political parties the local government bodies cannot do
anything for the people.