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SPC supervisory councillors under criticism

The conduct and performances towards the public by ministry supervisory councillors of the Southern Provincial Council were reproached by JVP Councillor Nalin Hewage at a council meeting held on Tuesday.

The Councillor was critical in response to a report submitted by Southern Province Chief Minister Shan Wijayalal De Silva related to a written question raised with regard to the ministry supervisory Councillors appointed by the Provincial Chief Secretary on recommendations of the council.

The Chief Minister submitted to the house, a list of 29 ministry supervisory Councillors appointed by the council as per its Cabinet resolution number 721/1 dated November 12, 2015. He also revealed details of the allowances paid to each of them.

Councillor Nalin Hewage said that payment of an additional allowance to them was a waste of public funds and appointment of a selected number of members as ministry supervisory Councillors without the knowledge of other members was unfair and undemocratic.

Councillors Channa Saliya Mendis and Chamly Withanachchi, who are noted as Joint Opposition loyalists, reacted to the JVP Councillor’s statement, stating that the respective allowances they receive were judicious.

"People elect us as their representatives to serve them. We were not informed over the appointment of the ministry supervisory Councillors. On the other hand, the Councillors receive a special budget of Rs 100,000 each for the maintenance of their respective personal offices to serve the people. But none had opened up any office and without spending the special allowance maintain their offices in their homes," Nalin Hewage further said.

The special payment is made to the Councillors for the service they render in supervising the activities of the respective ministries. The supervisory members are appointed from the ruling party. However, on being appointed to the posts as ruling party members, they act in hostility to the ruling fraction as loyalists to the Joint Opposition. This is strange. They stand as ruling party members, but always disrupt functions of the council. We the JVP Councillors support to keep up the required quorum in the House. They sabotage the plans of the councils and launch various campaigns against the council work. But still they get special status as ruling party members. This is a mockery, he added.

He reiterated that appointment of ministry supervisory Councillors is a complete waste of public money, for they do not render any service to the people who elected them. This practice should be stopped forthwith, he said.

Councillor Channa Saliya Mendis said, "What we get as a special allowance is very fair. We get money for the services we render in supervising the functions of respective ministries."

In parliament also there are ministry supervisory members, Councillor Chamly Withanachchi said.

Opposition whip Asoka Dhanwansa said, offering ministry supervisory member posts only to the ruling party members is an infringement of the Opposition Members’ privileges. Such members should be selected from the United National Party as well.

In the Western and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils, opposition members are also appointed as ministry Supervisory members, Opposition Leader Tennakoon Nilame said.

Chairman K. A. Somawansa chaired the Council meeting.