Asoka Gunawardana told LLRC : ”Reconciliation must be envisioned within an institutional framework for Democratic Governance”

Tape 1 – 25.08.2010 – Mr. Asoka Gunawardana
 
CHAIRMAN – opening statement
Mr. Gunawardana, before we commence I wish to outline the procedure that is adopted by this
Commission. Any person could make representations either in public or in camera – the choice is
left to the person who is making those representations. At the end of your representations the
Commissioners are entitled to ask you questions on anything arising from the representations that
you make or in relation to any matter that is relevant in terms of the Warrant. Now, there also you
can respond either in public or in camera – the choice is yours. That is the procedure that we adopt
in the course of the working of the Commission. So I just wanted to outline the procedure.
 
REPRESENTATIONS OF MR. ASOKA GUNAWARDANA
It can be in public. May I.
I would like to start by briefly trying to understand the terms of reference and it looks at events
between the 21
st
of February 2002 and 19
th
May 2009. The critical events the starting and the
closing event are the ceasefire agreement and the defeat of the LTTE. I understood the terms of
reference in these two events in the context of the failure of the negotiated peace process and the
ensuing necessity for the conclusion of the war through a military operation which led to the defeat
of the LTTE. Now this raises a number of questions as to how one should move … how we should
move … how the country should move from conflict to reconciliation.
 
My understanding is that the framework of the specific terms of reference is the broad context of
conflict. I’ll probably explain this later on. So then the question arises as to how we envision
reconciliation because that is the … I understand that to be the primary purpose of the Commission.
A few days ago when I was trying to put my thoughts together I was Googling and I came across
this communiqué – probably from the press – which gave a statement by the President and I thought
that was relevant in defining what reconciliation meant and I am basing myself on that statement
where the President had informed the Cabinet that in order to accomplish this task it has become
necessary to set in motion a mechanism which will provide a historic bridge between the past of a
society characterized by inflicted strife and a future society founded on the continued recognition of
democracy and peaceful co-existence and the affording of equal opportunities for all Sri Lankans as
guaranteed by the constitution. Now obviously the statement is very clear. It goes beyond the usual
dictionary definitions of reconciliation and it sets out the process of reconciliation as one which is
moving from a past of conflict to a future of peaceful co-existence. It is to be based on continued
recognition of democracy and equal opportunities for all. So I thought this sets the framework for
me to look at what has happened and then to draw lessons as to how one could approach
reconciliation.
 
At the outset I would like to note that therefore I understand reconciliation to be about people –
people of all communities, between communities and also within communities. Reconciliation may
be necessary within communities. Therefore reconciliation must be envisioned within an
institutional framework and that institutional framework is the framework for democratic
governance – more democratic governance than what we have had so far.
 
My fundamental position in the submissions that I will make is that the institutional structures and
processes for democratic governance have been incoherent. There has been a contradiction in
approaches to conflict and development as between centralized and devolved. Centralized
approaches as far as development is concerned and devolved approaches as far as conflict is
concerned. It is necessary to resolve these contradictions in order to move ahead. As I understand
conflict and development I wish to submit that they are related. They are not different issues. It is
therefore necessary to resolve these contradictions in order to move ahead with reconciliation move
from the conflict past to a future of peaceful existence. This contradiction or this separation of the
approaches to dealing with development and for conflict I call the governance gap. And this is
important and this must be addressed as one moves on to a process of reconciliation.
 
I do not want to go through the terms of reference that would be wasting time but I wish to note that
the ToR accepts conflict as the core issue. I trust I am correct, and posits the CFA as the point of
departure drawing lessons from the resolution of the conflict. Then how do we understand conflict?
There are various definitions – I do not want to go into those – but conflict implies an actual or
perceived differences in deeds, interests, values, leading to actions that seek to negate the opposing
position towards gaining advantage to one’s own position.
 
Now I think we are interested or concerned with conflict that has challenged the State rather than
social conflicts that may exist in different social situations. Conflict that has challenged the
authority of the Sri Lankan state. Lessons for reconciliation should then ask the question why
conflict took the form of challenging the state. The issue of conflict then can be addressed around
specific events or looked at in perspective especially in the context of the process of development
which in the context of Sri Lanka’s experience has created imbalances as between economic, social,
political aspects bringing about unequal access to opportunities.
 
I also want to go back to His Excellency’s address at the meeting of the All Party Representative
Committee on constitutional reforms and the panel of experts held on July 11, 2006 where he stated
that any solution there is a long court but let me get to the concluding part of that. In some any
solution needs to as a matter of urgency allow people to take charge of their own destiny. I also
want to draw inspiration from the “Mahinda Chinthana Idiri Dakma” page 52 where this position is
reiterated where it states that in relation to the state and conflict. My main expectation is to break
the fundamental concepts of a traditional homeland and a separate state and empower the citizens of
this country to arrive at a peaceful political solution and would devolve power to all its citizens.
 
The point I want to make is that in the final analysis the focus of reconciliation is people
empowering them to pursue common goals and aspirations of peace, harmony and prosperity in a
spirit of cooperation and partnership as has been set out in the terms of reference. Conflict that Sri
Lanka has experienced is not only ethnic. The status of the Tamil people in the Sri Lankan nation
state engaged political discourse from pre independence times. What is important as this issue was
allowed to evolve as a political issue rather than being addressed from a development perspective
that would have made sense to all of the Tamil people rather than continue the debate of the Tamil
elite.
 
The link between conflict and development however was brought to the fore first in the south and
not in the north through the JVP insurrection. How does one read the JVP insurrection? And I think
that is important. Sri Lanka has experience in decentralized governance had been guided by
somewhat contradictory imperatives of socio economic and regional development on the one hand
and those of social and political conflict and solutions thereof on the other. Assertion of control
over the state machinery has been perceived as necessary for managing development as well as
conflict. However during 4 decades following independence in 1948 Sri Lanka responded to
demands of post colonial transformation socio economic development and emerging social and
political conflicts by reforming the state structures within the framework of a centralized state.
 
The responses to the insurrection included a series of reforms but I want to bring to your attention –
to the attention of the Commission – one particular … one specific response; the establishment of
 
the office of a District Political Authority the DPA was a central Parliamentarian. So what we
had here in 1972 was further central control rather than devolution of power to sub national levels in
managing conflict.
 
Let me move on. I am going back in order to set the broad theme of my submission. The next
significant initiative reform political institutions was the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry in
1979 into the existing structure of local government with a view to ascertaining the manner in
which economic development activity in a district could be planned and coordinated at the district
level through District Ministers and District Councils. This was the Presidential Commission on
District Councils. It is significant though the mandate concerned local government and
development but the Presidential Commission dispelled any belief that their task was to inquire into
the validity or otherwise of and to find a direct solution to the ethnic problems which had
manifested themselves in the demand for a separate state. This was stated by the Commission in its
report.
 
Now, District Development Councils that were established in 1983 were considered at that time a
landmark in the process of decentralization in Sri Lanka. It provided … what is significant is it
sought to bridge this governance gap as between conflict and development. It brought about a
democratization of the district administration by providing an elected content. While it was
envisaged as the strategy for decentralized development it therefore also constituted the only
available political solution to address the demand for regional autonomy by Tamil people in the
north and the east. However, rather than introduce more decentralized governance the District
Councils institutionalized political de-concentration by carving out a role for Members of
Parliament at the local level. Members of Parliament were ex officio members of the Council.
With the District Minister as Chairman of the executive committee and the Government Agent as
the Secretary to the Council the District Council was institutionally embedded in the de-
concentrated political and administration system. Thus the District Development Councils failed to
bring about devolution and decentralized district administration as had been envisaged in the
President’s letter to the Commissioners. So District Councils fell far short of revamping local
government to become an effective vehicle for development or for the elevation of the district
administration to become a tier of Government. It proved inadequate to accommodate regional
pressures for local autonomy in the north and the east. In a situation of centralized management of
development District Councils were rendered ineffective in addressing livelihood needs of the
people. District Councils failed as an experiment in participatory democracy or democratic
decentralization or power sharing.
 
At this point though I would like to briefly refer to the Presidential Commission on Youth March
1990 though it follows the establishment of Provincial Councils. The Presidential Commission on
Youth proposed a set of fundamental principles that should guide national policy in general. This
was in response to the youth unrest that existed at that time. I want to refer to 4 of these. First,
more democracy; adequate devolution and dialogue; Second, equality of opportunity and non
discrimination in every sphere; Third, effective, expeditious and inexpensive redress of grievances;
fourth, values and institutions which give expression to the diversity within our society. I wish to
refer to these because of their importance for any process of reconciliation that we may think of.
The failure of District Councils as a governance arrangement meant that more substantive
devolution of power was necessary to accommodate the emergent regional interests of the Tamil
people. The shift to devolution involved carving out of jurisdiction of governance competence with
political administrative fiscal authority the province and the Provincial Councils were established as
units of jurisdiction allowing for far more comprehensive focus in the scope of responsibilities
transferred for sub national governments. The legal framework for the exercise of powers was
 
 
 
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vested in Provincial Councils provided for far greater provincial autonomy than what any
decentralization had hitherto offered.
 
I want to look very briefly at Provincial Councils … devolution and Provincial Councils.
Devolution had been advocated for Sri Lanka and been introduced as a political strategy for
resolution of the ethnic conflict and for the restoration of peace. It was not introduced explicitly as
a strategy or an approach for development. However while the rationale for devolution in general
has been political all over the world in the final analysis it is the effective management of
development that must justify the decision to devolve. So devolution … though decisions on
devolution have always been political the test of devolution has been on how effectively devolution
has been able to manage development. After all the decision to devolve is invariably based on the
demand for a better voice of regional local people in decision making regarding matters that are of
concern to the realization of the aspirations and needs. The case for devolution is therefore argued
on the basis that it would be possible to understand and assess the needs of local people better on
account of account of proximity to them which would thereby enable more responsive provision of
public goods and services and foster greater efficiency and effectiveness in the use of social and
economic resources.
 
What has been the experience? Sri Lanka’s experience in devolution under the 13
th
Amendment has
suffered from inadequacies in design as well as in practice especially from a lack of coherence and
commitment in moving from centralized to devolved governance. It has been suggested by a
foreign expert who visited Sri Lanka around mid 1990s that the break with the centralized tradition
represented by the 13
th
Amendment was less than it seemed. The reality of devolution to provinces
was little different in practice from the preceding centralized institutional arrangements.
Inadequacies in adjusting to devolution created an inefficient public sector duality negating the
potential of devolved provision for better management of resources and targeting of services.
 
If one looks at what has happened and not happened what do we see as far as the 13
th
Amendment
and Provincial Councils are concerned. There are gaps in constitutional required national level
actions. Law and order – very controversial – Police powers and lands; the appointment of the
Constitutional Land Commission … National Lands Commission. There have been executive
interpretations of subjects and functions; declaration as national institutions; national schools;
national hospitals; and then we have the Aggrarian services incident. Continued executive action by
the centre in devolved subjects; central control of provincial discretion in cadres and staffing;
financial dependence on the centre; uncertainty of financial transfers; parallel systems of
administration at the sub national level raising questions or issues of sub national coordination.
Two decades later Provincial Councils yet in pre devolution status of administrative
decentralization functioned as operational agencies of the centre there would seem to be no drive
from the centre. One must remember that Provincial Councils were introduced as a top down
process. It was a response to a demand only from the north and east. Transfer of legislative,
executive and fiscal powers are yet to produce a sense of provincial governance. There would seem
to be not much demand from the periphery and this is as far as the 7 provinces in the south. It is
based on that experience. Provincial finance is treated as a residual concern in national resource
allocation decisions and emphasis on the uniformity of provincial structures that reflects
imperatives of central control; centre province relations unequal and dependent in the absence of
formal channels for engagement and driven primarily by a policy implementation orientation.
Provincial Councils continued to function in relative isolation.
 
I also want to refer to local government; that is a part of the governance system that I am talking of.
In post devolution Sri Lanka or in the 13
th
Amendment, the discourse, debate around the 13
th
6
Let me conclude this part by noting that the LTTE did not want to work through Provincial
Councils for the north-east. The Government proposed SCIRAHN and the Development and
Reconstruction Council and the LTTE the ISGA. It is also noteworthy that the triple R or the
rehabilitation, reconstruction and resettlement – I trust I am right on that – programs were executed
from the centre and implemented through the District Secretaries. They were largely external to
Provincial Council structures and processes. Local authorities had no role.
 
Let me, before I conclude, refer to findings of a study that I was engaged in, in the east. This was
called a policy dialogue on development, democracy and peace carried out by the Marga Institute.
Now we found that the project or the dialogue was initiated on the basis that the election of a
Provincial Council, Local Councils and the restoration of civilian administration marks the
transition into a future of peaceful co-existence and opportunities for all. Our findings suggest that
the end of the war has allowed people of the eastern province to return to their homes, cultivate their
lands and move about. Despite these positives we found that the province remains fundamentally a
case of arrested potential. While the Government machinery is yet to get moving and become
supportive of a return to livelihoods the citizens remain constrained by ethnic prejudice, physical
insecurity, official indifference and above all rampant corruption. Our findings are based on a
perception survey of about 100 people in the 3 districts and a focus group discussion also conducted
at the community level conducted in all 3 districts and we found a strong correspondence of the
perceptions as between the perception focus group discussions and the perception survey. These
problems are rooted in institutional weaknesses at the provincial and local levels. The transition
from conflict to post conflict; from military to civilian has created a governance vacuum in the east
where political power brokers decide on what gets done or not done. The Provincial Councils and
Local Councils have little influence in governance. Until these issues are addressed the eastern
province will impose serious constraints to reconciliation.
 
My conclusion of the presentation, reconciliation is about moving from a conflict past to a future of
opportunities for all. The transition must be managed and therefore cannot be ad hoc. It requires
involvement of people participating actively in managing the transition as it is about a transition of
the circumstances that determine their livelihood and livelihood opportunities. I have made
reference to democratic governance and I believe a clarification is in order before concluding. The
notion of democratic governance goes beyond that of good governance. It recognizes that citizen
participation in governance involving political and civil freedoms have basic value as development
ends in themselves and not just as means for achieving socio economic progress. So therefore
democratic governance is about modes of decision making in respect of development ends
involving the making of collectively binding rules and policies over which people exercise control
in a manner that all members of the collectivity enjoy equal rights to participate in such decision
making. Democratic governance requires devolved structures and processes. Reconciliation then
must move at different levels – national, provincial and local.
 
I have attempted to address issues that exist in the provincial and local levels. Thank you very
much. I have not talked about the Finance Commission and if required I could get to the Finance
Commission where I was Chairman for the last about 10 or 11 years. Thank you.
 
END OF REPRESENTATION
 
QUESTION TIME
 
Dr. Rohan Perera
Thank you Mr. Gunawardana. Let me first of all thank you for your presence before the
Commission this evening and for this very informative presentation you have made. But you made
a very important observation that the constitutional initiatives from the mid 80s and the devolution
structures have overlooked a very important aspect – the 3
rd
tier as you referred – the local
government. So I take it the conclusion from that is that any efforts towards greater devolution
must take this 3
rd
tier into account so that the benefits of devolution reach the people at the local
government level.
 
Second point is what you just mentioned. I think the Commission would benefit by hearing – you
have been the Chairman of the Finance Commission – because political devolution without
financial devolution to achieve balanced regional development would mean very little. And what is
the role of the Finance Commission would play; what are its current constraints and the areas of
improvement or special focus in the context of financial devolution.
 
Final request would be whether you could make available the copy of the Marga study which you
just referred to for the benefit of the Commission. Thank you very much.
 
Mr. Gunawardana
On the last, I worked as Executive Governor and obviously I would place the request before the
Chairman and I believe he would readily agree – he himself gave evidence here. Chairman is Mr.
Mangala Moonasinghe.
 
On the first, that is one of the very fundamental points that I want to make that the importance of
local government, the marginalization of local government in the present system of devolution and
its importance if democratic governance is to make sense to people. People participate in the public
life of a country at different levels. People participate at the local level through elections to local
councils; they participate at the provincial level through elections to Provincial Councils and they
participate at the national level through elections to Parliament. That each one of these tiers or
levels of governance should have a distinct role. The discourse debate today is on the relationship
between the centre and the provinces and what we have had is transferring powers from the centre
to the provinces. Literature talks of moving from the bottom up what is usually referred to as the
principles of subsidiarity(?) where you start by locating those functions that are most competently
discharged at the local level at that level. There is an accountability aspect in the principle of
subsidiarity(?) which I referred to which makes it all the more important that those … where
accountability can be established most directly should be located at that level and where the costs of
service provision can be met at the local level to be located at the local level. The importance of
this is that it establishes an accountability framework between people and Government, and to my
mind any reconciliation should be based on such a relationship.
 
Now as far as the Finance Commission is concerned the Government … the 13
th
Amendment
guarantees funds as are adequate to meet the needs of provinces being allocated from the budget …
under the budget … from the annual budget, in consultation with and on recommendation of the
Finance Commission. What is the status of the fiscal aspects of devolution? Provinces are assigned
responsibilities in terms of the 3 lists. List 1 – I trust this one is the provincial list – yes List 1 the
provincial list. What does this mean? This means the assignment of responsibility for incurring
 
 
 
8
expenditure for spending. This requires resources and the resources are provided for by way of
powers of taxation that are assigned to Provincial Councils.
 
Now what we have … the situation that we have is one where overall taxation raises about 20% of
the expenditure requirements of Provincial Councils; the balance 80% comes by way of grants from
the Government … from the centre allocated for in the budget. So provinces are responsible – over
the last about 10 years – for about 11% of total Government expenditure in any year – 11 to 12%.
Local authorities are responsible for another 4 to 5%. So overall Provincial Councils and Local
Authorities are responsible for about 15% of total Government expenditure in a year. So this gives
us an indication of the size of devolution or the scope of devolution.
 
Now Provincial Councils raise about 3% of total revenue that is raised by Government. So there is
the imbalance between 11 or 12%; 10 or 11% and 3%. So imbalance of about 7% which is met by
grants. If one looks at the expenditure of provinces, approximately 80 to 85% of that expenditure is
on recurrent costs of providing services. There is about a 15% of expenditure which goes for
development activities. So the significant aspect and issue of fiscal devolution is the question of
adequacy of resources for provinces. Now how does one address the question of adequacy? There
are competing demands; transfers to local authorities or grants to local authorities are provided for
in the budget. We do not have revenue sharing provided for in the 13
th
Amendment to the
constitution which would guarantee a certain amount of revenue which does not have to go through
the discretion of the national budget process. Obviously if one is to address this situation one needs
to look at the total process of resource allocation at the national level. This has not happened and
therefore we have this situation continuing over the last … continuing up to date.
 
Now what has the Finance Commission done about this? Obviously that is the question that would
be posed. The mandate of the Finance Commission is basically two fold – first; to consult with
Government and recommend to Government on the requirement of funds by Provincial Councils.
The final decision as to what funds are allocated rests with the Government, and usually the
experience … my experience over the last 10 years or so has been that the recurrent expenditure is
accommodated because 80% of the recurrent expenditure is on personnel and the salaries and
personal emoluments must be met. But as far as capital expenditure is concerned what is allocated
would depend upon competing demands. So the Finance Commission goes through a process of
consultation with Provincial Councils before making its submissions to the Ministry of Finance.
There are negotiations with the Ministry of Finance on the needs of provinces.
 
The second part of the … (end of tape)
 
Mr. Gunawardana (contd)
… Finance Commission is to apportion this amount of money as between different provinces and
the Finance Commission is required to take into account the disparities between the Western
Province and the other provinces in order to bring about greater regional balance – balanced
regional development. The balanced regional development is a larger issue though provided for in
the constitution which cannot be addressed through the grants to Provincial Councils and
particularly in the context that provincial expenditure constitutes about 11% of total Government
expenditure. The devolution and fiscal devolution was a totally new experience. We have had
assessments of the current status of fiscal devolution; recommendations for improvement of the
status of fiscal devolution and the Finance Commission has worked closely with an institute in India
called The National Institute for Public Finance and Policy.
9
Now in the context of this overall situation what the Finance Commission has done, or has sought to
do, is to improve how funds are utilized in the provinces which is also important, maximizing the
returns from funds that have been allocated.
 
Now that is briefly the role and responsibility of the Finance Commission and the fiscal aspect of
devolution as it exists today.
 
Mr. H.M.G.S.Palihakkara
Mr. Gunawardana, thank you for your first hand experience. You said in your presentation the 13
th
 
Amendment you described it as a missed opportunity and one in which you find design flaws as
well as practice flaws. Now given your first hand experience as a key official associated with its
implementation for 10 years or more – I guess one of the most experienced public officials – what
do you think has contributed more to its what you described as missed opportunity. I am asking this
because there was debate and we heard different views here in the Commission that what you need
most is a good constitutional provision some say; others say no existing law is good enough, we
should implement it properly. That is my question to you.
 
Mr. Gunawardana
How do I respond to that question? The inadequacies or the shortcomings or the design flaws in the
13
th
Amendment, particularly in respect of fiscal devolution, arises in the context of how you look
at the 13
th
Amendment. If one looks at the 13
th
Amendment from the point of view of a federal
constitution or a federal approach, then obviously there are significant gaps. Now, I firmly believe
that one can take the 13
th
Amendment as it is and achieve the full results that one can expect from
… effect proper implementation of devolution. Now let me clarify that very briefly.
 
It has been said that the success or failure of decentralization – and that applies to devolution
therefore – is not so much design issues; I am not for a moment saying design issues are not
important, but it is more on how it is implemented; how it is practiced. There is an inherent
problem with the 13
th
Amendment because it was introduced into a centrally driven system. So
unless the necessary restructuring takes place as between the roles of the centre and roles that have
been created for the provinces, one is not going to have devolution working and that is what we
have had. I recall a project funded by the World Bank in 1988 or 89 called The Public Sector
Restructuring Project which addressed some of these issues but very little has moved thereafter.
 
So I would state that despite design flaws it is more the practice of implementation that accounts for
the current status of devolution in Sri Lanka.
 
Prof. Karu Hangawatte
Thank you Mr. Gunawardana. I have a question on the same lines. I think you answered partially
when you said 13
th
Amendment was introduced in a central governance structure. And having said
that, the approach that the Finance Commission has taken so far – as you described – seems to be
further strengthening the central governance by – you know when you hand over money to local
authorities – but my question is within a unitary structure is it possible to have an administrative
structure system whereby the local bodies – whether they be local government bodies or provincial
– whatever you want to call them – can generate their own income and use that for the development
within those localities whatever and which will make them more responsible then in terms of the
expenditure and they will feel that is their own rather than some money coming from some entity –
some Government or whatever right. Is that possible or …?
 
 
 
 
 
10
 
Mr. Gunawardana
It is possible, but there are limits. When one constitutes spatial jurisdictions for devolution – local
authorities, Provincial Councils – you are carving out jurisdictions within the existing economy and
obviously there will be disparities in the size of the economy – the provincial economy or the local
economy – and on that will depend the scope for collection of revenue and for being able to collect
adequate revenue for a local authority to manage itself. So obviously therefore there is always the
gap between the expenditure requirements and the revenue that is generated. So this has to be made
good. There is much that can be done in the current situation to improve the performance of local
authorities within the existing structure …
 
Prof. Hangawatte
Within the existing structure by creating some kind of competitive structure, you know, competitive
process and competing with each other and generating …
 
Mr. Gunawardana
That is one; and also creating incentives to collect more revenue. The current system of grants to
local authorities does not create incentives because the current system of grants to local authorities
is for the reimbursement of salaries so that it does not create an incentive for a local authority to
improve its revenue performance. So major restructuring of local government is necessary. But
that does not require … at least the fiscal aspects don’t require any amendments to laws. There is
currently work being done on bringing about amendments to the relevant Ordinances and enhancing
revenue raising capacities but the particular issue that I referred to can be worked out as a policy
measure but it requires extensive consultation and discussion with local authorities.
 
An issue that bugs the system as it is, is the fact that there is a Finance Commission and a Ministry
of Local Government and Provincial Councils. Not that there is no clear demarcation. The Finance
Commission is set out in the 13
th
Amendment but the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial
Councils is the agent of the centre for devolution. So there is a certain ambiguity as to who would
be responsible for … but when one goes beyond the specific mandate of the Finance Commission as
far as the Finance Commission is concerned.
 
Prof. Hangawatte
Just one question about the Marga Institute study regarding the methodology. This is a
methodological question really. You said that you used a sample of 100 persons – am I right?
 
Mr. Gunawardana
Yes, approximately about100.
 
Prof. Hangawatte
So with that 100 sample size – that population – what type of population did you extrapolate your
results to?
 
Mr. Gunawardana
I agree that methodologically it is inadequate, but we set up groups of about 30 to 35 in each of the
districts and they responded to our questionnaire; and then we conducted a separate focus group
discussion with members at the community level drawn from different strata – officials, agriculture,
women, youth and trade chambers. But what surprised us and what is important to us was that the
perceptions of these two groups broadly corresponded – there was large area of correspondence
 
 
 
11
between these. So we thought that would be good enough to go ahead with our findings and publish
our findings.
 
Prof. Hangawatte
Thank you.
 
Mr. C.Chanmugam
Yes Mr. Gunawardana. I would just like to ask you one or two questions. One is – now in the
separate Provincial Councils were there some Provincial Councils that administered their territories
better than the others, and was there any reason because of human resources or anything like that?
and two, when the elections were conducted was there an environment that it was reasonably free
and fair or perceived to be free and fair?
 
Mr. Gunawardana
The second question is tough. I am not sure whether I will be able to respond to that. But on the
first, there were some early starters; for example, the north western province. They got on to their
job very quickly and passed a number of statutes, especially the statute on environment which
establishes a provincial environment authority and which now excludes the Central Environment
Authority from the North Western Province. So the North Western Province was an early starter. I
have talked with the Chief Minister in the course of some other work I was doing and he said …
and the senior officials there. Their position was that they recognized the limitations in working
Provincial Councils – political limitations rather than legal or constitutional limitations. I was
Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Provincial Councils in 1988 the first Ministry when it was
established and I recall the Chief Ministers were getting a little – what shall I say – out of hand, and
they were then brought into the meetings of the Government Parliamentary Group in order to ensure
that there was coordination at the political level and there were no problems at the political level.
The political context in which Provincial Councils worked is important. So, there were early
starters like the north western province. There were innovative measures taken by almost all
Provincial Councils – Western Province under the Chief Minister Mr. Susil Moonasinghe –
introduced a system of registration of vehicles as an ongoing process rather than doing it at the end
of the year making it more convenient for people to get their vehicles registered. I mean this may
be considered a small thing but there were many innovations like that. Some were definitely
affected by the capacity of staff officials they have had. Senior officials of the public service
showed no interest in taking up positions with Provincial Councils, and even to-date there are
serious problems as regards capacity for planning; capacity for budgeting in Provincial Councils. I
am not sure whether I answered your questions.
 
Mr. M.P.Paranagama
Mr. Gunawardana. What is the failure of implementing the 13
th
Amendment and the devolution of
power? Can you say that there was no real intention to devolve power? It was first introduced to
merely get over some problems …
 
Mr. Gunawardana
Yes, I think I said that the 13
th
Amendment was introduced for political reasons but at the same time
I also did say and I do say that its relevance rests on how devolution manages development and that
is precisely the situation that we have today.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
12
 
Mr. Paranagama
… already suffered because of the war.
 
Mr. Gunawardana
Conflict is part of the process of change.
 
NOTE: The two questions posed by Mr. Paranagama are virtually inaudible as he has not
made use of the mic. Suggest a clarification so that the questions can be correctly typed. The
answers were audible and have been typed correctly.
 
END OF QUESTIONS
 
Chairman – closing statement
Thank you Mr. Gunawardana for that well structured presentation. I think we all benefited by the
ideas that you expressed and certainly it will be very helpful in formulating our recommendations.
Thank you.
 
Mr. Gunawardana
Let me express my deep appreciation of the opportunity that was afforded to me to come before you
and make my submissions. Thank you.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
12
Mr. Paranagama
… already suffered because of the war.
Mr. Gunawardana
Conflict is part of the process of change.
NOTE: The two questions posed by Mr. Paranagama are virtually inaudible as he has not
made use of the mic. Suggest a clarification so that the questions can be correctly typed. The
answers were audible and have been typed correctly.
END OF QUESTIONS
Chairman – closing statement
Thank you Mr. Gunawardana for that well structured presentation. I think we all benefited by the
ideas that you expressed and certainly it will be very helpful in formulating our recommendations.
Thank you.
Mr. Gunawardana
Let me express my deep appreciation of the opportunity that was afforded to me to come before you
and make my submissions. Thank you.
 

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