Delimitation proposals gazetted, govt. can go ahead with LG polls

Dissanayake Committee head says:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Jayalath Dissanayake Committee yesterday disputed the government’s claim that the local government polls had to be put off indefinitely due to the non-completion of the delimitation of new wards.

Chairman of the five-member committee and veteran administrator Jayalath Dissanayake yesterday said that his outfit had successfully completed the delimitation process last year. The committee appointed on Dec 7, 2012 by the previous government comprised an attorney-at-law and four senior retired public servants.

Responding to a query by The Island Dissanayake, who has served the public sector for over four decades, said that the delimitation of new wards had been gazetted soon after the conclusion of August 17, 2015 parliamentary polls.

Dissanayake was responding to Local Government and Provincial Council Minister Faizer Musthapha’s much repeated claim that the delimitation process was yet to be completed.

The SLFP-led Joint Opposition has repeatedly alleged that the SLFPers in the UNP-led government feared a certain split in the party in case of LG polls and hence the indefinite postponement of the elections.

Having taken several amendments in respect of the delimitation process into consideration, the Jayalath Dissanayake Committee handed over its report to Karu Jayasuriya, the then minister in charge of Local Government portfolio in President Maithripala Sirisena’s 100-day government.

Dissanayake said that Minister Jayasuriya had called a media conference on June 19, 2015 at his ministry where he paid a glowing tribute to the Committee. Dissanayake questioned the appointment of another committee to review his recommendations accepted by Parliament. According to Dissanayake, the report had been gazetted after having secured President Maithripala Sirisena’s consent. Therefore, there couldn’t be any valid reason for a fresh review of the delimitation process, he said.

Asserting the fresh review had been a political decision, Dissanayake alleged that it would be a never ending process. The official said that many proposals rejected by his Committee, too, could be submitted again. He warned that decisions taken by the review committee would certainly pave the way for fresh controversies and result in fresh objections.

Alleging that the vast majority of proposals were meant to promote personal agendas, Dissanayake said that it wouldn’t be realistic to produce a report to the satisfaction of one and all.

Dissanayake told The Island that the on-going political exercise would result in his committee having to take responsibility for the delay in LG polls.

According to Dissanayake, only the SLFP had forwarded a comprehensive set of proposals in respect of the delimitation process under the hand of the then SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena whereas the SLMC, too, provided a useful report as regards 175 local government bodies. Explaining the procedures adopted, Dissanayake said those who had been underestimating their efforts were either ignorant of the process or pursuing some hidden agenda.

Dissanayake said that there had been many contradictory statements over the postponement of LG polls in the recent past. However, those who had been critical of the delay were apparently ignorant of the circumstances under which the Parliament had accepted the recommendations made by the committee headed by him.

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