Jaffna Local councils face financial crisis
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 13:28 GMT]
Acute shortage of funds has crippled functioning of the local government authorities in the Jaffna Peninsula, and the Municipal and Pradeshya Sabhas face uncertain future, local administrative officials said. Development activities have been curtailed, and the security situation prevailing in the North has further impacted the day-to-day activities of the local councils, officials added.
In addition to Jaffna Municipal council there are three major Urban councils –Chavakacherai,Point Pedro and Valvettiturai -and ten Pradeshya Sabhas in the peninsula.
In 1998, during the regime of President Chandrika Kumaratunge, local government election were held, and when the term of office of the local councilors expired after five years, Special Commissioners (SC) were appointed to run the councils.
The local councils manage the administrative needs of the people in the peninsula making use of the taxes levied from general public.
However, due the prevailing situation in the peninsula, the local government authorities are faced with serious financial crisis since the revenue obtained by leasing and renting of buildings for business purpose has been severely affected.
Since many business establishments and many public markets remain closed, the revenue usually received from leasing or renting these buildings has been significantly reduced resulting in many developmental activities being placed on hold.
Overall there has been 70 percent decrease in revenue and in Jaffna Municipal council alone the drop is 60 percent, local government officials said. The revenue from business taxes also has been reduced by one third, resulting in crippling of many developmental activities.
In addition, the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has slashed its subsidy to about a third of the amount, and the promised financial aid also has been delayed, worsening the crisis, local officials said.
New developmental activities, especially sanitation and health projects have been suspended.
Vital services such as supply of drinking water, constructing toilet facilities, road maintenance, and building maternity homes hasve been seriously hampered due to financial constraints, the sources added.