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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2553

Devolution must not ignore development says Sri Lankan President

Neville de Silva - Diplomatic Editor Asian Tribune

London, 02 May, (Asiantribune.com): Sri Lanka's president Mahinda Rajapakse defended his party's devolution proposals announced on Monday as a first step in the search for a political solution to its long standing conflict.Mahinda Rajapakse argued that though the unit of devolution proposed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was smaller than the provincial council system functioning today, their proposal made more sense. (File Photo)Mahinda Rajapakse argued that though the unit of devolution proposed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was smaller than the provincial council system functioning today, their proposal made more sense. (File Photo)

President Rajapakse on his way back from Barbados where he witnessed the cricket World Cup final between Sri Lanka and Australia, stopped over briefly in London on Monday, during which he had a short conversation with Asian Tribune.

Rajapakse argued that though the unit of devolution proposed by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was smaller than the provincial council system functioning today, their proposal made more sense.

"The present provinces are too large. For example in the south the unit runs from south of the Bentara River to Hambantota and further. This is too large to carry out real development."

"We must not only think of devolution. We must also think of development, how we can develop the rural areas in particular. That is the way to empower the people so they could manage their own affairs better and improve their living conditions," he said emphasizing that real development is subsumed under big units of devolution.

He said that though the proposed unit, the district council, is smaller it will have more powers since the present concurrent list where certain functions are shared by both the central government and the provincial council, would be done away with. New powers would be devolved to the district councils and the grama sabhas.

Rajapaksa said that by creating a second chamber as proposed by the SLFP it would be possible for the chief ministers of the district councils to sit as ex-officio members of this body.

The second chamber would enjoy political power.

President Rajapakse appears to have been influenced in his thinking by the Indian village governance system which tends to lay emphasis on small units of devolution and empowerment of the people at grassroots levels.

The SLFP proposals will now be put before the all party conference when input from other political parties will be expected to shape the final devolution package as a political solution to the on-going conflict.

- Asian Tribune -

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