Can a Minister appoint a Board of Directors and a Chairman for a proposed statutory Board before the Act for such objectives is passed by Parliament?
Posted on February 5th, 2018

Sudath Gunasekara

5.2.2018

Yesterday I read (in Kandy News of Jan 2. 2018. Page. 02) a statement issued by a Chairman of an interim Statutory Board of Directors of nine members of an Institution called ‘The Kandaudarata (Upcountry; Note that not Kandyan as it is popularly called) Urumaya Srakiima  Adhikariiya) where even the draft of that Act for setting up the said Board is not yet finalized.

The Chairman also has said that it is an interim Board for a proposed Authority in respect of which the preparation of an Act is being done at the moment. This obviously means the Act is yet to be passed by Parliament after satisfying the normal legal requirements finally by the Legal Draftsman’s Department. What made the Minister concerned to appoint a Board of Directors to a statutory Board before the Act is passed by Parliament and under what legal provision he has done it. Is it not like registering the birth of an unborn child?

I now pose the question whether a Minister has the power to appoint a Board of Directors and a Chairman to an Institution where even the proposed Act is still under preparation, leaving aside the need for such an act to be passed by Parliament before it appoints a Board of Directors and whether it is legally valid.

If immediate action is not taken on this matter I am sure all other Ministers will also follow suit and play havocs citing this as a precedent. When you look at some of the key appointments done even by the President and the PM since Jan 9th 2015 in retrospect, including the appointment of Prime Minister, one might say this is nothing. But as a responsible citizen of this country I hold very strong views on this type of blunders as such actions by irresponsible politicians will set a dangerous precedent for public financial accountability in future.

Who pays for the maintenance of such Board of Directors, their salaries and other expenses incidental to, such as vehicles, Offices and office equipment, staff, stationary etc and under what authority they make such payment. Is it out of public funds or out of the personal money of the Minister in charge? If the answer is the latter we have nothing to worry. But on the other hand if it is out of public funds it is irregular and illegal and obviously amounts to misappropriation of public funds and abuse of authority.

I suggest this matter be brought to the attention of the Auditor General by someone immediately for necessary action as a matter of public interest.

A draft copy of an Act

A draft copy of the proposed Act was given to me by a member of the Karaka Sangha Sabha of Asgiriya Chapter in June last year requesting for my observations. I carefully studied it in details and submitted my observations on 13.07.2017.

Among other things I pointed out the following serious flaws in the draft

1That there is already an Act called Udarata Sanwardhana Adhikariya Act No 26 passed by Parliament on 24th August 2005.

2 That the proposed Act does not propose to repeal the previous Act either

3 That it is only a carbon copy of the earlier Act, haphazardly an unintelligently altered with no valid substance or solid reasons only to achieve the short term political agenda of the present Government of appeasing the Tamils in the State sector, shamelessly and irresponsibly, eying for their vote, without knowing that thereby it betrays the birth rights as well as the human rights of the sons of the soil.

4 That it betrays the native Kandyan Peasants who had being there from the inception of history as under clause 9 of the said new draft it has laid down the need to obtain the concurrence of the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Upcountry new Village (Tamil) and Infrastructure Development, if any land within the Estate sector is needed for this Authority. Prior to 1972 we had to take permission from the British. Now this Government is trying to give that power to the Indian Tamils who were brought hereby the British in the latter part of the 19th century as coolies and illicitly left behind when they left in 1948 who will now replace British Colonial power with a neo-Indian expansionist agenda.

My observations

(I attach a copy of my observations for the benefit of my readers for them to get a better picture of the dangers of this proposed Act)

For the reasons I have given here I urge the Minister and the Government to immediately disband this illegitimate Board of Directors and stop all further actions on this proposed treacherous Act in the name of millions of our ancestors who have died in battle against three Colonial invaders, Portuguese, Dutch and the British, and scarified everything they had for 500 years since 1505, to protect this sacred mother land for posterity. I am sure the heroic ancestors will rise from their graves to curse the architects of this betrayal and to squeeze the necks of those are responsible for this tragic crime.

I do not know as to what happened to my observations as the party  to whom I handed over the observations never spoke to me on this subject since I handed it over in July last year.

I took great pain and my precious time to prepare these observations as I have been a person seriously concerned and unofficially involved in this subject for a long time even from my University days in 1958 as I felt the person who made the request was serious and genuine.

21 years after retirement from public service I am now fully convinced that all this will not fall in to the deaf ears of those in power. But I am writing this piece to bring this serious betrayal of the Kandyan peasants to the immediate attention of everybody concerned on behalf of a group of hapless peasants of my motherland who have no one either in the Parliament or any other Council to represent their grievances in spite of the fact that there are nearly 5000 members who are supposed to have got elected by the people to represent them at the National, Provincial and Divisional   level, with a distant hope that someday someone will come to the rescue of the sons of the soil from the pitiful plight in to which their own politicians have pushed them..

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