Milinda Moragoda, Founder of the Pathfinder Foundation and former Cabinet Minister, called on political parties to clearly state their positions on the Provincial Council system in their policy platforms for the forthcoming general elections. He urges parties to consider repealing the 13th Amendment, thereby abolishing the Provincial Council system.
Moragoda reiterated his earlier proposal that the Provincial Councils should be abolished and power be directly devolved to empowered and reconfigured local, urban and municipal councils, since these bodies operate closest to the citizenry, and are thus in a better position to address and solve community-level problems.
He argued, that although the original intent of the 13th amendment enacted in 1987 was to create more provincial autonomy in order to help address Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem,instead this structure has proven to be superfluous, expensive, divisive, and fraught with inefficiency.
He stated that given the increasing ethnic, religious and regional polarization in our society, it is important that a viable democratic framework to address these issues be established, and that a much more effective way to achieve this intent, would be the creation of an empowered Senate/Upper House, that could address critical issues concerning religious, ethnic, and regional diversity.
Moragoda pointed out that:
1. The nine provincial councils existing in Sri Lanka had been dissolved and have not been functioning, many for nearly two years:
Sabaragamuwa Province: 26 September 2018
Eastern Province: 30 September 2018
North Central Province: 01 October 2018
Central Province: 08 October 2018
Northwestern Province: 10 October 2018
Northern Province: 25 October 2018
Southern Province: 10 April 2019
Western Province: 21 April 2019
Uva Province: 08 September 2019
The population at large would be able to judge as to whether they have missed their presence during this period.
2. Finally, the Provincial Council system costs Sri Lanka over 250 billion rupees annually and there is little doubt that significant savings and improved efficiency can be achieved through their abolition this dysfunctional mechanism.