24 October, 2017

DEW And I, And Hakeem Too, Have Received None

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

A Presidency Under Threat – Political and Administrative Units

An opposition member noted that recently there had been much speculation in the corridors of Parliament about the manner in which funds were being allocated for development. I had realized something unusual was going on, because during Reconciliation meetings in the North I had been told about massive amounts being made available to individual Members of Parliament.

I had not received anything myself, and indeed had to ask for the Rs 5 million that has been given each year to all Members of Parliament. I was particularly keen to have this available, because it was only recently that I realized that no one else spent even a modicum of what I did in the less populated Divisions in the North. I had decided that this year then I would spend the bulk of my funds, not split between North and South as previously, but largely in the East, because I realized there were also Divisions there which received little. But I am not sure whether I might not be forgotten, given the rush to spend the much larger sums that have been given selectively.

What the rationale for selection is I am not clear about, though I know that DEW Gunasekara has not received any, and it seemed Rauff Hakeem had received nothing either. I was told though that, when he complained about this to the President, it transpired that the latter was not aware of this and urged him to write in and ask. I have followed suit, but as yet have received no reply.

At a recent Consultative Committee meeting however, since the Minutes referred to the allocations, we were able to ask, and received a very clear picture of the manner in which the development budget allocated to the Ministry of Economic Development is being spent. It seems that large amounts have been allocated to government Members of Parliament who chair particular Divisional Development Committees, and they are asked to decide on Projects. This is of course not meant to be spent arbitrarily, but is supposed to be after due consultation of the people.

These sums, which vary from individual to individual, are on top of the Decentralized Budget of Rs 5 million rupees which has usually been allocated to all Members of Parliament. But it seems there is also another allocation for development, a uniform sum of Rs 30 million each, though this has not gone to everybody but only to some (or rather most) government Members of Parliament, on the grounds that they need also to engage in development work in the Districts from which they are elected. Perhaps I should have said hope to be elected, because I gather that some National List Members of Parliament have been given such an allocation. And it is possible the reason DEW and I, and Rauff Hakeem too, have received none of this is because we are not electoral organizers for the government for any particular electorate.

Unfortunately the whole process seems to have been shrouded in secrecy, and the public do not know what funds are available to them and how these have been allocated. I should also note that in the areas in which I work, namely the North and East, there is no systematic process of consultation, and I am sure that the ad hoc systems that are adopted will add to the dissatisfaction currently felt with regard to government.

I should however note that some of the government Members at the Consultative Committee at which the matter came up explained the process of consultation they have put in place and this seems systematic. It was clear that this is an advance on what happened previously, since then it seems they had no say and everything was left to the Ministry of Economic Development. The broader consultations, we were told by one Member, perhaps the brightest of the new Members of Parliament from the SLFP, apart from Janaka Bandara, were primarily for the very much larger sums that had been allocated to individual Members, usually well over 100 million, depending on the population in the areas they covered, and the number of Samurdhi beneficiaries, and other variables.

But clearly it is obvious that questions can be raised about the efficacy and the equity of the allocations, as well as the systems that are put in place by different individuals in terms of their own sense of responsibility and accountability. In addition government is in danger of laying itself open to charges of neglect, and other criticisms, that could increase unpopularity in areas in which Members are not able to work for the community as a whole. This is particularly true of the North, where a very few members are able to make decisions about large areas, given that there are few members on the government side.

And dare I say it, many of these members are not able to conceptualize and engage in activity that would ensure sustainable development. I had written to a few to suggest that they spend their money on education, given the need for human resource development in the area, and one informed me that he did indeed do this: he had arranged for special classes in schools in the afternoon, for which payment was made from his decentralized budget. The fact that he was thus in effect paying for private tuition, to make up for inadequacies in the school system, had to be pointed out, though he did in the end appreciate that what he should have been doing was ensuring change in the system.

Leaving aside the inefficiencies the system will involve, and the abdication of the responsibility to plan holistically, the wildly varying manner in which allocations have been made makes clear the need for systemic reform with regard to both administrative and administrative units. It is quite absurd that government still functions in terms of electorates when these have no administrative status, and indeed mean nothing for political purposes either. The absurdity of allocating huge sums to all members elected from a particular District, obviously because it is assumed they need to win hearts and mind throughout the District – and in competition with each other – must surely bring home to anyone concerned with executive responsibilities the need to change our electoral system, as has been pledged at so many elections.

I have written accordingly to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Reform, to suggest that the Committee do something useful and issue an interim report which takes up matters such as this on which consensus could readily be achieved. I think too that bold reform on these lines will also do much more to win hearts and minds than spending vast sums of money without proper planning. If government explained how such a change would bring Members of Parliament closer to the people, and reduce the current massive expenditure on elections, and utterly destructive intra-party rivalry, I have no doubt the government will receive a much needed boost.

But the different ways in which allocations are made also indicates that we need to streamline our units of administration, which now see-saw between electorates and districts and divisions. In theory government Parliamentarians have received these large amounts of funding because they chair Divisional Development Committee meetings, but these bodies are not statutorily constituted. They should be, for in the current context it makes sense to work through Divisions, moving to smaller units just as some decades back the Province gave way to the District. Coordination of government services, and in particular results based budgeting, are best done now as Divisional level, given the number of services which are coordinated at that level.

I have written then to the Minister of Home Affairs too, to urge him to take action to ensure uniformity with regard to the units through which government works. He has the instruments at hand for this, for recently a consultation was undertaken in association with the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, and other concerned Secretaries, to examine the way in which services were delivered to the people at the grass roots. But whether it will be possible, in a year in which elections seem to be the only focus of attention, to engage in the structural reforms necessary to increase efficiency as well as transparency and accountability is another question.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Rajiv wijesinhe represents which party and eletorate?

    • 3
      0

      He is appointed by the President who does not know what his brother Minister Basil is doing about distributing allocations to parliamentarians?

    • 0
      0

      Dinner plate?

  • 11
    0

    Poor fellow on his last days and months as a parliamentarian crying for things he should have figured out long time ago. Hope we don’t hear from this sorry chap once he’s not in parliament.

    • 9
      1

      Precisely, is it something he came to know just now?
      Didn’t he know he was licking un educated guy’s whatever all the time in spite of being a professor. What a shame!

      I hope so too mate not to hear from these so called educated cheap chaps who are supporting a despot tirelessly day in and day out for their supper or other perks.

      All these buggers (specially the educated ones) must be duly punished for letting a crook and his cronies to rob the country and send them on exile or take their civic rights away.

      Don’t make STC belittle Mr. Prof & Rajpal Brothel Abeybayake. At least you can do that little favour to your Alma Mater.

  • 8
    1

    What is crystal clear is that the system of “gratuity payments” from money belonging to the people, has been modeled in such manner as to enable the Executive President (that is Ali Baba & Tsunami Hora),his C-in-C (Gota), and his 2nd in Command (Mr 10%), to bribe “strategically” placed MPs, to support their nefarious activities when called upon to do so.

    Pardon Rajiva’s lack of clarity because unlike those of us who can remain anonymous, he has to face the real threat of the White Van Menace.

  • 13
    0

    Rajiva, you are like an old frustrated Woman complaining about all sorts of wrong doings mistakes and injustices that your government keeps making. Yet you hang on to their coat tails and try to justify the actions of the President and all sorts of men in power who treat your advice with scant respect.Please stop writing all this nonsense because you make no impact on the policy or workings of this regime.
    Please bide your time till the next election and enjoy the fruits of sycophancy while times are good. My sincere advice go back to Teaching and keep you self respect.Thats where you can be of service to the youth of our country.

  • 8
    0

    Thank you Sir for disclosing this secretive sharing of funds from Basils
    budget allocation, to the reading-public, even as a grudge that 3 of you
    were barred.

    Did the Parliament have a say in this type of “bribes” in the name of
    District Development!

    • 5
      0

      Like roads,seaports,airports,beauty parlors,Drugs,
      another development encouraged.Govt members themselves
      pointing their fingers at each other,leaving no room
      for the opposition take up issues and at the same time
      sticking around with the faulty products.This is the
      new trend.Rauf Hakeem must be given the top prize for
      trying to put Muslims to sleep,even after an incident
      like Aluthgama-Beruwala.He must be forced to change
      the name of SLMC into SLEMC,’E’ standing for EASTERN.
      MR is so generous to live with all these unusual but
      quite beneficial new fashion trends.

  • 9
    0

    A long winded essay to whitewash the stealing of public funds. Has the author still not figured out that the parliamentary process is just another mechanism to divert funds to certain pockets? Or, is he still hoping against hope that Mahinda Rajapakse will save him from his sad predicament?

  • 2
    0

    A blank cheque of 5-30 Mn given to rogues instead of concrete develeopment plans, estimates and feasibility studies. The limit should be set for MP’s and projects approved and monies released only when expenditure is approved and justified by parliment and the cabinet. Proper tender procedures need to be followed.

  • 6
    0

    Professori, you mourn, “””I had not received anything myself, and indeed had to ask for the Rs 5 million that has been given each year to all Members of Parliament”””

    Think Professori, there could be a message in all this. Take the hint, revert to teaching, an altogether honourable occupation, and one in which you will surely get some gratitude, and wouldn’t need largesse to accomplish.

    Professori, you were the Regimes Oddjob mouthpiece once, and now you are in danger of being their shunned one.

    Turn! Turn! Turn!

  • 3
    0

    Another manner in which the regime is stealing public funds!

  • 2
    0

    Shut up and get out! This is the message from the President.

  • 2
    0

    1. How many episodes have we seen of ”A Presidency Under Threat” ?
    You have at least one more chance to become a Nominated MP.

    2. ”it transpired that the latter was not aware of this” ???? – at the end of this term he can do better things than contesting for the third term.

    3. If you’re interested in justice for the North and the East, you have to fight for a systemic process of meeting their needs and not for ”mercy” from one MP from the South like you.

    4. ”In addition government is in danger of laying itself open to charges of neglect, and other criticisms, that could increase unpopularity in areas in which Members are not able to work for the community as a whole. This is particularly true of the North, where a very few members are able to make decisions about large areas, given that there are few members on the government side.”
    This is about the money individual MPs get for their areas.

    What about the economic development by the Northern Provincial Council?
    PTF for Northern Development is still in the hands of the Centre/Governor. Who are the members of PTF for Northern Development:
    http://www.president.gov.lk/news.php?newsID=674

  • 4
    2

    Shameless.

    No wonder no one votes for him. His party has NEVER won a single seat! Can you believe it?

    • 4
      1

      Beggars can’t be choosers.
      If nominated, he will not run;
      If elected, he will not serve.

      • 1
        1

        Javi:

        What is your Brain ( if you have one) made of. Sounds like clay.

    • 2
      1

      Sister Fathima:

      I cant believe it.

      • 2
        0

        Jim the Dim;

        Don’t speak against the sun!!
        caveat.! [caution)

        =__
        tatte motte bette – 3 little gems for
        jim the dim boy with no_chastity belt.

    • 2
      2

      …….or until a misdeed;

      So much work and the result is ridiculous.!

      \☺/ SBSP \☺/

      • 2
        2

        Javi:

        Unbelievable \☺/ SBSP \☺/

  • 0
    0

    RW – Oh daddy daddy, please give me some money.
    MR – Shut up RW.
    RW – Just give me 5 million daddt and I will shut up. You are giving everyone else 30 million.
    MR – You are not everyone else. I nominated you. The others were elected.
    RW – I promise I will develop the north and the east.
    MR – Dont’ make me laugh. What can you develop with 5 million.
    RW – This is unfair. You singled me out.
    MR – Not only you but RH and DEW G also did not get any money. They have been bad boys.
    RW – You will become unpopular daddy. The whole thing about such large sums of money going out is shrouded in mystery.
    MR – Shut up and go and stand in that corner.

    and so forth and so on

  • 2
    1

    Complaining to the masses about his income when the masses are finding it difficult to feed their hungry kids. All those spongers at the top are the same. Enjoy it while you can, hope you get a tummy ache!

  • 1
    0

    Baa Baa Black Sheep have you any wool?
    Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full.
    One for my Master and One for his Dame
    But None for the Little Boy whose crying down the lane.

  • 0
    0

    It is very very stupid idea to give funds to each member of the parliament.

    • 0
      0

      Didn’t you know that moneys so handed over were bribes, you moron?

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