Repealing 13A is Not a Choice but a Matter of Economic and Political Survival
Posted on November 5th, 2012

Dilrook Kannangara

Voices against the 13A increase with time. Mockery of the 13A is seen from the predicament the country is on today which will take a heavy toll on each of the three pillars of governance; add to it the fourth pillar of provincial councils! Indeed, if provincial councils must be referred to pass a parliamentary act, these futile units of governance must be another governance pillar. Each year the provincial councils guzzle $1.3 billion (in 2012 terms). It doesn’t give a corresponding benefit to the nation. With a very tight budget for next year, provincial councils are an obvious target for finding money for worthwhile causes.

$500 Million Increase in Defence Budget

Defence allocation for next year has been increased by 25% or $500 million. This money will be very well spent given the past track record of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development. According to many Sri Lankans, this is the only ministry that functions well. There are only two ways to earn this money in order to give it to the Ministry of Defence. One way is to increase taxes. That would be an additional tax of Rs. 3,095 per person. A family of four will have to pay an additional tax of Rs. 37,143 a year. This is a colossal amount of money for most Sri Lankans. Already they are suffering under unbearable inflation and cost of living, snapping another huge tax on them will drastically cut down the lifespan of the government. It will also reduce the economic growth rate and push the economy into doldrums.

The other option is to cut education, healthcare, social welfare and other allocations. However, all these sectors are severely underfunded and are in a state of decay. These sectors badly need increased funding and certainly not reductions. Even if they are to be cut, finding $500 million will be nearly impossible. That leaves provincial councils that cost the economy $1.3 billion recurrent expenditure to run but returns no benefit. Abolishing provincial councils is the most sensible and economically wise decision.

What Makes Up the Huge Cost of Provincial Councils?

Provincial councils provide grants to schools, hospitals and various other matters in the “ƒ”¹…”provincial list’. However when funds pass through various intermediaries, the amount that actually end up in the hands of the service provider reduces. Administration costs, finance and banking costs, lost interest, multiple disbursement costs and treasury management costs increase while giving more room for misappropriation. Everything under the provincial list is in total disarray. Proper and planned development activities relating to these subjects have been carried out only by central government agencies.

Provincial administration guzzles up a colossal amount of money. Payments to administration functions, personal assistants, vehicles, equipment and other needs for administration are needless expenses. They are better spent on actual development works. It is no surprise how all the mass development activities including the Mahaweli project, housing projects, hospital building projects, the village reawakening movement to name a few came to a halt after 1988! Thereafter the biggest concern of the government is earning this money by whatever means. New taxes were imposed and existing taxes were raised but people felt no added benefit. Since the introduction of 13A, provincial taxes were introduced and GST/VAT came into operation (replacing the very low turnover tax); foreign borrowings increased and in 2001 loan servicing cost exceeded the economic ability to pay. Had the 13A been repealed before 2001, the nasty economic surprise of that year could have been easily avoided.

Cost of holding elections, campaigning, policing, postal services and disruption to economic activities on account of provincial elections every five years add up to another few billion rupees. These costs are not included in the above recurrent expenditure.

At least half of the provincial recurrent expenditure ($ 650 million) can be saved by abolishing them. This will be more than enough for the required $500 million for defence and urban development.

There is no other way to meet this requirement.

Repealing 13A is a Necessity, Not an Option

In this economic context, repealing 13A is a necessity and not an option. Unless it is done soon, the government will become very unpopular and economic activity will come to a standstill. Global economic gloom means more state investments are needed in the economy to keep it going. In the political front, provincial councils have become a hindrance to governance. If the northern provincial council elections are held, TNA will grab power and use its position to further their Tamil Elam struggle. TNA will target pockets of resistance to their separatist movement and either win them over or dilute them. Either way, the nation loses and Tamil separatism gains.

Provincial ministers are given generous foreign trips in the guise of familiarising them with best practices abroad. Once elected, TNA will travel to Tamil Nadu to further strengthen its separatist ideology; link-up with the TGTE unofficially and agitate for a mass people’s campaign against the state. TNA has not done any good in municipal councils, urban councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas it controls. Repealing 13A must be done before holding the northern provincial council election.

The international community has no right to dictate terms to Sri Lanka. If people’s verdict on political councils can be obtained, it will be loud and clear to the international community what needs to be done. The common man will be more influential than the mighty international community if a referendum is held on the matter.

11 Responses to “Repealing 13A is Not a Choice but a Matter of Economic and Political Survival”

  1. nandimitra Says:

    I am surprised that the politicians have not realised the truth that this article brings forth. On the contrary Higher military spending, Provincial councils are merely instruments to subjugate the people so that they can rule the roost . Externaly the 13th amendment is used to show the world that the power is devolved to the Tamils so that they would give more aid so that the rulers can siphon more money from the aid given and leave the country with a debt that cannot be paid for generations. This is the despicable nature of our politicians. The 13th amendment will never be repealed. The govt has been in power since 2005 and if they did not do it in the last 8 years they are never going to do it unless they make another amendment which is much worse than the 13th.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    We simply need a President who thinks of the country before him and his family. We need a President who has a sense of history. We need a President who will not keep several white elephants called Provincial Councils just to placate unsuccessful politician friends. Sri Lankan nations cannot afford the luxury of keeping these Praboos flying round the country like a bunch of warlords with unlimited power. People are simply sick of them!

    President’s hesitation in not repealing the 13th Amendment keeps the nation held hostage to Indian and international pressures. He has to do what is right for the nation in the present and in the future. If he thinks only of his welfare and how long he is going to cling into power, he will fail the Ranaviruwoes who afforded the current adulations, the nation who stood by his side for him to finish off the LTTE. The nation and the armed forces led by his brother Gotabhaya has done their duty and now waiting to do the other half – a political solution that will stand the test of time as well as keep Sri Lanka at peace for the foreseeable future.

    Sri Lankans have suffered for 3 decades – the longest warring situation faced by any country in the recent past and do not want to have a repetition of the same again.

    We are a proud nation and do not want to be saddled by an anachronism imposed on by the despicable Indians. Sri Lanka must become an assertive political entity rather than a nation with lily-livered-guttersnipes like Ranil Wickramasinghe and the like.

    Sri Lanka’s border is the seaboard that surrounds it and that is how it must remain for eternity!

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dilrook makes a compelling case to remove the 13-A. Thank you, Dilrook.

    If Separatism plus negative Economy results from 13-A, double reasons to remove it.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    The ruling party is fooling the people with 13A.

    Why impeach the Cheif Justice without doing anything to repeal 13A?

    Government badly wants to keep 13A. Possibly give 13P. But wants to tone down 13A on money matters. Also wants the supreme court to interpret the law relating to 13A in government’s favour. That’s why the impeachment. Attention it gets from the whole episode will actually make repealing 13A more difficult.

    All this effort should have been chanelled towards repealing 13A with the concurrence of the supreme court. When an action is brought, there is no way the supreme court can stop it.

    SLMC, CWC and the like will support the impeachment on condition that 13A stays. SLMC support to UPFA in eastern provincial council was also based on condition that 13A stays.

    But economic compulsions will eventually force the government to either lose the election or repeal 13A. The Divineguma ministry and its extensions will be yet another economic burden.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    YEA…Ratnapala! Well said INDEED!

    Down with the 13th Amendment shoved down Sovereign Sri Lanka’s throat by self-serving India!

    GET RID of this FOREIGN BALL & CHAIN shackling Mother Lanka’s feet NOW!


    Ratna Deepa, Janma Bhumi
    Lanka Deepa, Vijaya Bhumi
    Mey Apey Udaara Wu
    Maathru Bhumi-yayi
    Mathru Bhumi-yayi

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    Ananda,

    A small correction is appropriate.

    Ratna Deepa, Janma Bhumi
    Lanka Deepa, Sihala Bhumi
    Mey Apey Udaara Wu
    Maathru Bhumi-yayi
    Mathru Bhumi-yayi

    If there is no SPECIFIC owner, others will claim ownership.

    Especially such a splendid land.

  7. lingamAndy Says:

    REF: Lorenzo -Lanka Deepa, Sihala Bhumi
    Ananda,- Lanka Deepa, Vijaya Bhumi
    Watch out this Lorenzo is LTTE Spy !

  8. M.S.MUDALI Says:

    This idiot Dilrook cannot give any points for his article. He barks as any other sinhala racist. Is he thinking that he is in the pocket of Queen Eliza?

  9. lingamAndy Says:

    M.S.MUDALI
    what wrong with you ,Dilrook have valid point !!!
    why the impeachment. Attention it gets from the whole episode will actually make repealing 13A more difficult.! That is the fact !!!
    Government badly wants to keep 13A. Possibly give 13P- We all know that other wise indian wiil take MR bothers to UN Huge Court ( thereat for life time never ever will do)!

    13plus will be born on September 2013 ( NP election day result ) ! that is our second stone ( first stone 13A) for Thamil Eelam Dream with out VP !!!

    Nampungal Naalai pirakkum Thamil Eelam ( not today)! come back tomorrow We will say again Nampungal Naalai pirakkum Thamil Eelam ( not today)!

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Does GoSL really benefit from the 13-A ?
    The constant threat of Separatism plus a negative Economy, plus constant international interference can hardly be called beneficial to the GoSL !!

    We think the GoSL want the People to study the whole 13-A package and demand that it be removed. That way, it is truly Democratic. Added benefit will be that the People will study the subject and agree that the DiviNaguma Bill is far better and safer for all.

  11. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    ANANDA !!! A song we use to sing at Camp-Fires:-

    BATHIYENA PEMPAALAA
    NAMADIMU LAKMAATHAA
    SAAMAYA SEELA SAM-A RAKA DEMU
    MAVUNI PIYA SUKUMALAA.

    RANMUTHU DEEPAYA SIYA BABALAY
    INDIYA SAAGARAYE etc.

    It is a shame that this song is never played anymore. Very patriotic song.

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