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LG Election System Review Committee wants number of elected members reduced

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 A committee appointed to review the local Government Election System has pointed out the need to reduce the number of elected local government members.

During the previous administration the parliament unanimously agreed to expand the LG system leading to an increase of members from 4,000 to 8,600.

The expansion caused a massive increase in the expenditure causing a tremendous burden on those bodies.

The following is the text of a statement issued by Parliament yesterday: “A report submitted by the three-member committee, appointed by the Minister of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government to review the Local Government Election system was taken into consideration at the Select Committee of Parliament to Identify Appropriate Reforms of the Election Laws and the Electoral System and to Recommend Necessary Amendments, on Thursday (02).

The summary of the review committee was presented by R.A.A.K. Ranawaka, Secretary to the Ministry of Lands and Land Development in his capacity as the Committee Chair.

Prof. Sudantha Liyanage, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, a member of the National Delimitation Committee, said that the unusual growth in the number of members in local government bodies should be reduced to a fixed number as decided by the committee.

He said that 70% of the members in the local government bodies should be elected on a divisional basis and the remaining 30% on a proportional basis.

Prof. Sudantha Liyanage stated that the Review Committee recommended that the proportional representation system used for choosing Members of Parliament should be used in calculating the number of members in Local Government Institutions and  also stated that the bonus seat system applied should also be applicable.

One of the weaknesses the Committee observed in the current mixed proportional representation system was the failure to introduce any bonus seats for the winning parties. He added that the review committee hoped that the introduction of bonus seats will reduce the instability in local government bodies.

Members of the Review Committee was also of the view that in order for a political party or independent group to be eligible to represent local gernment bodies, such party or independent group must have 2.5% or more of the valid votes cast in the relevant local government area.

The Committee also pointed out that the manner in which members are to be elected for multi-member constituencies should be changed and the procedure prescribed in Act No. 22 of 2012 should be applied for that purpose. Former Secretary to the Ministry Jayalath Ravi Dissanayake has also been a member of this review committee.

Leader of the House, Minister of Education Dinesh Gunawardena, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee, said that the will of the people is to maintain local government bodies with a minimum number of seats. However, he pointed out that there must be a member responsible for a particular division.

The Attorney General’s Conclusive remarks regarding the Provincial Council Elections (Amendment) Act No. 17 of 2017 were also tabled at this Parliamentary Select Committee.

Also, the Report on Local Government Elections submitted to the Committee by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress was tabled.

Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, G. L. Peiris, Douglas Devananda, M.U. M. Ali Sabry, Members of Parliament Kabir Hashim, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, M.A. Sumanthiran, Mano Ganesan, Madura Vithanage and Sagara Kariyawasam were present at the meeting held last week (02).

The next meeting of the Parliamentary Select Committee is scheduled to be held on Monday (06).



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Central Bank urged to save collapsing local industries

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The National Freedom Front (NFF) has requested the immediate intervention of the Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal to save micro, small and medium scale industries badly affected by the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19.

The NFF parliamentary group comprises six members, including one National List.

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa, on behalf of the SLPP constituent parties, has warned of steep increase in unemployment, drop in the contribution made by small and medium scale industries to the national economy and the further widening of the gap between the rich and poor.

Party sources told The Island that the NFF had decided to take up the urgent matter because, in spite of repeated promises, those who had been severely affected were yet to receive assistance. Minister Weerawansa has urged the Central Bank to restructure loans obtained by affected industries and also extend the moratorium.

Weerawansa has in a letter dated Oct.18, told Cabraal that according to a survey conducted by the Industrial Development Board, micro, small and medium enterprises suffered serious setbacks. However, of the loans made available through the banking sector, a substantial segment had been disbursed among major players, the Minister said, while pointing out that in other countries in the region more than 50 percent of total loans were made available to micro, small and medium industries.

Unfortunately, here in Sri Lanka they received approximately 15 percent of the total given as loans, the minister said.

Minister Weerawansa said that though industries suffered, almost all state and private banks had recorded much improved performances with significant profits.

The Minister said that following his intervention with the cabinet of ministers, the government agreed on a plan of action to deal with the situation. It would be the responsibility of the Central Bank to implement the agreed proposals, he said.

(SF)

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So far no side effects among Pfizer vaccinated 15,000 A/L students

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Over 15,000 GCE AL students had been vaccinated with Pfizer and there had not been any side effects, Colombo District Director of Health Dr. Dilip Liyanage told the media yesterday.

He said that the Ministry of Education had given them a list of 20,688 that needed to be vaccinated.

“We would like to assure parents that there is no need to worry. Over 15,000 children have been vaccinated and there have been no problems so far. Trust the health professionals and vaccinate your child at the first opportunity you get,” he said.

Dr. Liyanage added that children who missed their chance to get vaccinated on weekdays, can get vaccinated at the MOH office near their home.

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Govt. approves prohibition of cattle slaughter

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The government has approved the prohibition of cattle slaughter. The decision was announced at the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Information Department yesterday (19). The government said the relevant laws and regulations, including those passed by Local Government authorities would be amended for that purpse.

The Legal Draftsman has drafted Bills to amend the following acts and ordinances.

• Authority 272 of the Cattle Slaughter Ordinance No. 9 of 1893

• Act No. 29 of 1958 Concerning Animals

• Municipal Councils Ordinance – Section 252

• Section 255 of the Municipal Councils Ordinance

• Ordinance No. 15 of the Urban Council Act of 1987

The Attorney General has certified that the said Bills do not clash with the provisions of the Constitution.

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