Development Bill: UNP to meet President, confident of getting him on board

Warns of violent plans to derail national economy


by Zacki Jabbar


The UNP yesterday expressed confidence in getting President Maithripala Sirisena on board, despite some SLFP MPs trying to pressurise him into opposing the Development Special Provisions Bill, largely aimed at improving the rural economy.

Kurunegala District UNP MP Nalin Bandara told the "Sunday Island", that a parliamentary delegation from his party would meet President Srisena shortly to ensure that members of his National Unity Government spoke with one voice on policy matters.

"We are on the verge of celebrating the second anniversary of our historic January 8, 2015, presidential election victory. Attempts by the defeated candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa to spoil our progress has to be thwarted and we are confident it can be done," he said.

Amendments to the Development Special Provisions  Bill ( DSPB), could be incorporated, but the spirit of the Bill had to be retained for development projects to be fast tracked, he emphasized.

Contrary to misinformation that is being spread, the proposed legislation empowered the president to summon cabinet ministers, provincial chief ministers and chairpersons of parliamentary oversight committees to discuss plans, programs, schemes and projects. It would not bring Provincial Council subjects under the central government.

Bandara said that the main reason for the pro Rajapaksa MPs in the SLFP to oppose the Bill, introduced by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, was due to a fear that the UNP would take the credit for speedy economic progress.

Many foreign investments are in the pipeline, he revealed.


"Volkswagen is scheduled to establish a plant here during the course of this month . We need to support industrialists, entrepreneurs and businessman with the required legal framework. Mahinda is leading a campaign to sabotage the national economy by organizing violent protests in various parts of the country. This  was clearly evident during the demonstration held at Hambantota port recently. His supporters resorted to piracy and terrorism."

Asked  about  eight of the nine Provincial Councils opposing the DSPB, Bandara said that the Bill sought  to get Provincial Councils more involved in national development. It was introduced as a remedy for all major issues faced by investors keen to do business with Sri Lanka. The objective was to create a ‘super country’ and not a ‘super minister.’ The minister in charge of the subject would also be answerable to Parliament, he added.

The Bill envisages the creation of regional bodies for purposes of coordinating development with more powers to the minister in charge of economic development and confers immunity from prosecution regarding acts done in good faith.

It proposes the setting up of a Policy Development Office, to plan and implement decisions and a high-powered Agency for Framework.

A Rural Modernization Board to speed up development in rural areas is another body suggested in the Bill. The establishment of five Regional Development Boards, for the  Southern, Northern, North Western, Central and Eastern Development Board has also been proposed. The Chief Secretaries of each province will be among those who would be members of these boards.

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