Milinda Moragoda, Founder of the Pathfinder Foundation and former Minister, has urged political parties to prioritize the abolition of the Provincial Council (PC) system in their upcoming campaign manifestos for the national elections. Moragoda reiterated his proposal to eliminate Provincial Councils, advocating for the direct devolution of power to strengthened and reconfigured Local, Urban, and Municipal Councils.
Moragoda has made this proposal just after finishing a stint as the High Commissioner of India.
Born out of the Indo-Lanka Accord, the 13th amendment to the Constitution facilitated the setting up of Provincial Councils (PC) and the devolution of power away from the Centre. It may not be easy as said to abolish provincial councils without angering India.
The original purpose of the 13th Amendment, enacted in 1987, was to enhance provincial autonomy and address Sri Lanka’s ethnic issues. However, Moragoda argued that this structure has proven to be redundant, costly, divisive, and inefficient. In lieu of the Provincial Council layer, he recommended establishing an empowered Senate or Upper House to handle matters related to religious, ethnic, and regional diversity.
Moragoda believes that a representative and properly composed forum, such as an empowered Senate, would be better positioned to identify solutions for the complex issues facing the nation.
The Provincial council system for some is a white elephant for some and for others it is a symbolic gesture of the Central Government’s commitment to devolution of power.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena said “ “One of the main problems is that of the total allocations to the provincial councils annually, only 25 % or so goes into the actual development of the provinces. Nearly 75 % goes towards salaries, vehicles, telephone and electricity bills. There are an excessive number of employees in the provincial councils,”
However the former President said speaking to the Hindu that attempting to abolish the provincial council is like playing with fire.