Several NGOs warn that the passage of the proposed Divineguma Bill would be a blow to Sri Lanka’s democracy, good governance and power devolution.
The Center for Policy Alternatives, UNP and the JVP have filed cases in court against the bill presented to parliament by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa to establish the Divineguma Development Department.
The bill has proposed that the Samurdhi Authority, Up Country Development Authority and the Southern Development Authority be amalgamated to set up the new department.
“No public discussion”
Director of the Center for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu told BBC Sandeshaya that there were concerns over the manner in which the bill was presented and its contents.
He said that there was a risk of the central government taking back some of the power vested with the provincial councils.
“The bill poses a challenge to several areas that are under the provincial council list according to the 13th Amendment,” he observed.
He notes that since the bill deals with the centralization of some powers vested with the provincial councils, the bill should have been presented to parliament after receiving approval from the provincial councils.
The Center for Policy Alternatives believes that the bill poses doubts over the assurance given by the government to fully implement the 13th Amendment.
Another school of thought is that the bill poses a threat to financial administration and the people’s right to monitor.
“This new department would get a large amount of money. Also, every democratic Constitution states that the monitoring of public finances is vested with parliament. However, this bill poses a challenge even to this matter,” Dr. Paikisothy Saravanamuttu said.
A statement issued by the Center for Policy Alternatives state there are doubts as to why the bill is being hurriedly presented to parliament without holding a public discussion.