Officials with decision-making powers to attend District, Regional Development Committee meetings compulsory: President

Gotabaya Rajapaksa - Sri Lanka President

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has categorically directed that officials with decision-making powers must attend District and Regional Development Committee meetings to implement people-centric projects.

The President on Saturday stated that from the outset of the ‘Discussion with the Village’ program, he had realised that the lack of proper involvement of responsible officials was the main reason for the delay in implementing useful projects and the loss of benefits to the people.

The people are suffering due to the endless tug of war between the officials, respective institutions and the people’s representatives. The President reiterated the need for the responsible officials of all key institutions including wildlife, forest conservation, environment and road development to make collective decisions in the implementation of projects.

Absence of proper land use planning is not the fault of the people, President Rajapaksa said while adding that it is essentially important that officials go grassroots to witness the real situation with their own eyes, when providing long-term solutions to many rural problems, including land issues.

Some people misinterpret policy decisions that were taken for the benefit of the people. President Rajapaksa stressed that he will never allow the real issues of the people to be swept under the carpet by using misinterpretations as an excuse.

The President made these remarks participating in the 11th ‘Discussion with the Village’ program held at the Nelumwewa Community Hall premises in the Paligama Grama Niladhari Division of the Karuwalagaswewa Divisional Secretariat Division, Puttalam District.

“The poorest and most difficult villages in the island are selected as the venue for the ‘Discussion with the Village’ program. The people living in these villages have been suffering from numerous unresolved issues for a long period of time.

“These problems cannot be solved by looking at them from an officials’ or any other party’s perspective alone. Therefore, the officials and the villagers can make the right decisions by meeting each other,” the President said, addressing the gathering at Nelumwewa Community Hall.

The ‘Discussion with the Village’ program commenced on in September from Badulla district. Thereafter programs were organised covering Matale, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Polonnaruwa, Kalutara, Moneragala, Kegalle and Kandy districts.

The idea behind this program is for the President to talk to the rural communities living in remote and difficult areas without intermediaries about their long-standing unresolved problems and to present them directly to the officials in order to find solutions.

Problems that can be solved on the spot are instantly addressed. The rest which take time to deal with are noted down to find solutions later. The objective of the program is to reach out to the people of the village, understand their problems and find solutions giving considerations to their own suggestions.

Paligama village is located 23 km away from Puttalam town, bordering Nawagattegama and Anamaduwa Divisional Secretariat areas. Currently, the total population of Paligama is 1,533 consisting of 447 families. Out of them 171 families are Samurdhi beneficiaries. Paddy and chena cultivation are the main livelihood of the people of the village.