|Saturday, 10 January 2004|
Govt. to freeze number of PC members
by Ranil Wijayapala
The Government will freeze the increase in the number of Provincial Council members considering the massive expenditure to the country, Cabinet spokesman and Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said yesterday.
The Government has also decided to hold elections for all Provincial Councils on a single day in accordance with the recommendation of the Parliamentary Sub Committee on Electoral Reforms and to hold the elections on a Saturday.
Addressing the weekly Cabinet press briefing, Prof. Peiris said these moves could be implemented following simple amendments to the legislation.
The Government will bring these amendments as emergency legislations since the elections will be held shortly for all Provincial Councils.
"There will be no specific time frame on the freeze on increasing the number of Provincial Council members," he said.
Prof. Peiris said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presided over the party leaders' meeting at Parliament yesterday in this regard.
Day-to-day economic and social activities will not be affected when elections are held on a Saturday.
Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake recently gazetted regulations on the increase of total number of Provincial Council members by 76 based on the 2001 census. According to estimates, the country has to spend Rs. 200 million every year if the number of Provincial Council Members is increased.
If this proposal is implemented, the number of members in the Western Provincial Council will go up to 139 from the present 104. The Central Provincial Council will have nine additional members.
There will be additional eight more members in the Southern Provincial Council, 10 in the North Western Provincial Council, five in the North Central Provincial Council and four each in Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provincial Councils.
The total number of Provincial Council members will increase to 456 if the move is enacted.
The Minister said the non-appointment of the Elections Commission by the President will seriously affect the country's electoral process.
"This is in total violation of the Constitution as it is necessary to appoint an Elections Commission in accordance with the 17th Amendment of the Constitution," he added.
Produced by Lake House