If India Wants Provincial Councils, India Should Pay for Them
Posted on September 18th, 2022

Dilrook Kannangara

Sri Lanka’s governance cost doubled since the introduction of provincial councils in 1988. A new layer was introduced to governance which was never needed. A white elephant. Instead of one minister of education, health, etc. now we have 10 of them; 9 from provincial councils. Corruption, waste, etc. also doubled. Tax collection had to be increased to maintain provincial councils. All right-thinking people know they are white elephants but none has the courage to call for their removal.

India introduced provincial councils using gunboat diplomacy. But Sri Lanka keeps feeding the provincial council system. India has repeated its demand to fully implement 13A and further empower provincial councils. If India wants them, India must pay for them. Sri Lanka sees no use of provincial councils.

In fact, removing the entire layer of provincial councils goes a very long way in containing state expenses and creating a budget surplus. As long as provincial councils are there, Sri Lanka will never be able to achieve a budget surplus.

Achieving a budget surplus of 2.3% of the GDP by 2025 is an IMF condition to receive IMF assistance.

Provincial councils double-handle funds, have 450 councilors, pay salary and perks to them and a very large number of clerical staff. Removing these has no adverse impact on the nation. Sri Lanka was governed much more efficiently and cheaply for 30 years before provincial councils were introduced.

Mark my word, Sri Lanka will never be able to achieve a budget surplus if provincial councils remain and as a result will not get full IMF assistance.

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