Development (Special Provisions) Bill : Govt open to suggestions – Eran Wickramaratne | Sunday Observer

Development (Special Provisions) Bill : Govt open to suggestions – Eran Wickramaratne

The Government will discuss the future of the Development (Special Provisions) Bill within the constitutional and legal framework considering the suggestions and amendments made by the Provincial Councils which oppose the Bill in its present form, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprice Development, Eran Wickramaratne told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

“The draft bill will be open for discussion and for amendment after it is presented in parliament. There had been a discussion between the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers of some Provincial Councils and their suggestions will be incorporated into the Bill after discussions,” the Deputy Minister said.

The resolution to adopt the Development (Special Provisions) Bill was unanimously defeated in the Northern Provincial Council, and was also defeated in the Uva and the North Central Provincial Councils.

“Some have raised issues that it infringes on the powers of the Provincial Councils. Parliament cannot pass a Bill that infringes on the powers of the Provincial Councils. If it is done it will be challenged in courts,” the Minister said.

“What we must not forget is the necessity for this Bill. It is aimed at speeding up the development process,” he said.

Wickremaratne said general complaint coming from businessmen and investors is that there so many levels of government and there are so many institutions, so many bureaucratic processes that discourage the entrepreneurship and investment.

“The Bill is an attempt to get government institutions to work together so that businessmen, entrepreneurs and investors are not dissuaded. We must not forget the objective of the Bill,” he said.If politicians typically thinks about their individual powers they are not thinking about the outcome. The outcome is to do with development, investment, jobs, and income of the people, he said.

“We should keep the idea in focus and be open for suggestions and amendments”, the Deputy Minister said.

The Development (Special Provisions) Bill is expected to be presented in Parliament in February next year.

Meanwhile, Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya said that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during Friday’s (December 23) discussion with a group of Chief Ministers of the Provincial Councils, gave a positive response to their proposals on the proposed Development (Special Provisions) Bill.

He said that the Premier pointed out that the Bill does not aim at taking over any powers exercised by the Provincial Councils. There is nothing wrong in this draft Bill if it can be presented without creating a Super Minister portfolio.

The position maintained by the Chief Ministers is that the powers contained in the draft bill should be given to a special representative commission and not to a Super Minister. The Chief Ministers told the Premier that it is not appropriate to vest the powers in a particular individual and the Premier conceded it, he said.

When it comes to the subject of economic development, it would have considerable impact particularly on the Western Province and it would violate the second subject, ie. development vested in the Provincial Councils by the constitution.

However, he said the Provincial Councils will oppose the present draft Bill because its aim is to create some sort of post exercising dictatorial powers.

“Any amendments to be made to the present draft Bill will be considered by the Provincial Councils and during the discussion with the Premier we presented our proposals,” he said.

However, the Western Province Chief Minister said despite the claims that the draft bill does not make any reference to a Super Minister, its clause 12 (1) bears reference.

“If there is any provision for the Super Minister to consult the Chief Minister, it would not happen but the Super Minister would have his way,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ajith P. Perera yesterday challenged critics to show any reference to a Super Minister in the Development (Special Provisions) Bill.

There is no Super Minister in the draft Bill. It is a wrong term used by anti-government campaigners. Unfortunately, the media uses that word per se. There is nothing called Super Minister in that Bill, the Deputy Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

In fact, this draft Bill is almost similar to the Mahaweli Development Authority Act. If we want to ensure rapid development, Deputy Minister Perera said adding, “We need special laws. It is a democratic process and there are many checks and balances incorporated in it.”