centralized system of Sri Lanka, which is a Unitary State, failed to
satisfy the aspirations of the people and there was growing insistence on
decentralization of administrative processes in order to achieve rapid
economic and social development of the country.
Many attempts have been made to decentralize administrative decision-making. As early as 1955 there were proposals for decentralization but were shelved for political and other reasons. There were repeated demands for decentralization and these demands resulted in the following attempts.
In the Sri Lankan context, devolution means transferring political and administrative decision-making authority from central government to elected bodies at lower levels.
The instruments of
Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution provides for -
Provincial Councils Act No 42 of 1987 provides for -
There is no legal definition of Provincial Council.
Provincial Council is not –
Provincial Council -
are nine (9) provinces in Sri Lanka. However, only eight (8)
Provincial Councils were established because the Northern and Eastern
provinces have been temporarily merged into one in terms of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.
These were originally established in 1988 for a period of five years and
were dissolved in 1993. The North East Provincial Council however ceased to function in
1989 as its administration was taken over by the
Government owing to the failure of the administrative machinery. Fresh
elections were held in 1993 and there are seven Provincial Councils
powers devolved to the provinces by the thirteenth Amendment to the
Constitution are -
Provincial Council has power to pass a "'statute" on any subject
that is assigned to it under the Constitution subject to the
condition that it should not violate the Constitution. However, if any
provision of a statute is inconsistent with the provisions of any law
passed by Parliament, then the provisions of the law will prevail over the
provisions of the statute. An exception is made in the case of laws that
were in existence on the day the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution
came into force. If any provision of a statute made by a Council is
inconsistent with the provisions of a law that was in existence on that
date, the operation of the provisions of such law will remain
suspended so long as the statute is in force. Parliament can however
subsequently make it inoperative by passing a new law or a resolution, as
is provided for under the Constitution.
The functions of the Government and the Provincial Councils are listed in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution, which comprises of three lists:
Provincial Councils List
II Reserved List
III Concurrent List
The subjects in this list are considered fully devolved to the Provincial Councils subject to the national policy on each such subject. Provincial Councils can pass statutes on these subjects without any further requirements. However if any provision of such a statute is inconsistent with the provision of an Act of Parliament passed after the Thirteenth Amendment, then there will be no validity in such provision.
Provincial Council cannot exercise any power in respect of any subject in
this list nor can it pass any statute in regard to them.
Provincial Council can exercise power in regard to the subjects in this
list. However before the Provincial Council could pass a statute on such
subject, it should consult Parliament for its opinions on the provisions
contained in such statute. The Provincial Council however is not bound to
give effect to whatever opinion that is expressed by Parliament.
Parliament desires to pass an Act on a subject in this list it can do so
provided however that it would consult the Provincial Councils about the
provisions of such Act. Here again, it is not mandatory for Parliament to give effect
to the opinions expressed by the Provincial Councils.
The Provincial Council is organized into nine institutions:
ii) The Council (Legislature)
Four Provincial Ministries
The Provincial Public Service Commission
vi) The Chief Secretary
through the Board of Ministers or
through officers subordinate to him.
Board of Ministers
The Chief Secretary
The Provincial Fund
The population of each Province.
The per capita income of each Province.
The need to reduce social and economic disparities
The need to reduce the differences between the per capita income to each
revenue of the Provincial Council is as follows:
Grant (Art. 154 R)
(Item 36 in List 1)
moneys received in the above manner are defrayed as follows:
into consideration the annual grant by the Government and the expected
revenue of the Council for a year an Annual Provincial Investment Plan is
prepared. The overall development objectives, as may be applicable to all
achievement of a high rate of growth through - (a)
specialization in agriculture (c)
transformation of present production into market oriented production (d)
export orientation Expansion of employment Alleviation of poverty Achievement of a balanced regional development The
institutional arrangements for planning, monitoring and progress review of
development projects vary from Province to Province but the arrangements
in general are: At
Provincial Level - Provincial
Planning Office under DCS (Planning), and
Ministry Planning Cells. At
Secretary's Planning Cell. The
tasks undertaken by the Provincial Planning Office are
Taking into consideration the annual grant by the Government and the expected revenue of the Council for a year an Annual Provincial Investment Plan is prepared. The overall development objectives, as may be applicable to all Provinces, are :
achievement of a high rate of growth through -
specialization in agriculture
transformation of present production into market oriented production
Expansion of employment
Alleviation of poverty
Achievement of a balanced regional development
The institutional arrangements for planning, monitoring and progress review of development projects vary from Province to Province but the arrangements in general are:
Provincial Level -
Provincial Planning Office under DCS (Planning), and
Ministry Planning Cells.
Secretary's Planning Cell.
tasks undertaken by the Provincial Planning Office are
tasks undertaken by Divisional Secretariat Cells are :
All matters which bring the Government of Sri Lanka into relations with any foreign country, and entering into treaties and agreements with foreign countries and implementing treaties, agreements and conventions with such countries are matters coming under the item of "Foreign Affairs" in List II - Reserved List and hence outside the competence of Provincial Councils. Therefore any foreign aid for a project in a Province relating to a subject in list-I or list-III will have to be negotiated by the Government. Section 22 of the P.C. Act stipulates that "foreign aid negotiated by the Government for a project or scheme in a Province shall be allocated by the Government to such project or scheme."
in a Provincial Council belong to
(i) the Public Service of the Province,
(ii) the Secretarial Staff of the Provincial
(iii) the statutory bodies set up under statutes of a Provincial Council.
posts can be filled, as is appropriate, by
(i) the officers permanently released from the Public Service,
officers temporarily released from the
Public Service, or by
(iii) direct recruitment.
governing the posts in the Provincial Public Service, including schemes of
recruitment, codes of conduct and conditions of service are determined by
the following authorities:
Council Pensions Act No. 17 of 1993 applies to members of the Provincial
Public Service and to the members of the P.C. Secretarial Staff.
The Governor can delegate his powers of appointment, transfer, dismissal and disciplinary control of officers of the PPS to the Provincial Public Service Commission. The PPSC can in turn re-delegate its delegated power to the Chief Secretary or to any officer of the PPS. Since 1993 the control of the officers of the All Island Services has been taken back by the Public Service Commission.
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