UNP backbenchers claim conspiracy to sabotage development projects


By Saman Indrajith

UNP backbenchers told Parliament yesterday that there was a conspiracy to instigate people against the government by blocking the implementation of its rural development projects by local government bodies, controlled by the Opposition. Registering their dismay and frustration over the inability of Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry to remedy the situation, the MPs called for the resignation of Minister Faiszer Musthapha.

UNP Puttalam District MP Ashoka Priyantha said: "There is a tug-of-war on regional development programmes. Those who control the local government bodies are from the Opposition. They deliberately hinder the development projects in rural areas with the intention of creating public displeasure against the government. The minister always cites the provisions in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution or Provincial Council Act. If he cannot solve this problem he should resign.

State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government Sriyani Wijewickrama said that the chief ministers of provinces could regulate the local government bodies and in those provincial councils which had been dissolved, the Governors of the provinces had the power to do so.

MP Ashoka Priyantha: The President has commenced Grama Shakthi project for the development of villages. The Prime Minister has launched the Gamperaliya project. In addition there is the Samurdhi Programme to alleviate poverty in villages and line ministries have launched many development programmes for the grassroots at Pradeshiya Sabha or Grama Niladhari division levels. The local government bodies controlled by opposition parties do not assist in these projects and the try to block them.

"The Provincial Development Councils have sent letters to the regional development committees that they would not permit any development project to progress. The ministry should look into this crisis situation. For example, whenever the local government bodies start renovating roads, the provincial development councils send letters stating that those roads come under their purview and would not allow others to develop them. It is true that 90 per cent of roads in provinces come under the provincial councils. The rest come under the Highways Ministry. When they do not develop those roads and the local government bodies too are not permitted who will develop them? The people will go on complaining and blaming the government.

Badulla District UNP MP Chaminda Wijesiri: This is a conspiracy to instigate people against the government. The Provincial Council Ministry should intervene in this matter. The minister could summon the provincial chief ministers and other ministers and chairmen of local government bodies and instruct them to cooperate with development programmes. If not the Highways Ministry should take over the roads under them and develop them. Our colleague MP Dr Kavinda Jayawardana, too, had been blocked by the local government bodies in implementing development programmes using his decentralised funds. The Joint Opposition members came to power in local government bodies promising to topple the government. They are doing the same by blocking our development programmes in villages.

MP Dr Kavinda Jayawardana said that he had in his possession a letter by the Ja-Ela Pradeshiya Sabha to District Secretary, dated July 31, stating that permission would not be granted to continue with development projects the MP had initiated.

State Minister Sriyani Wijewickrama said that she would bring the issue to the notice of the Minister.

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