PC polls also need reforms
House Leader W.J.M. Lokubandara has moved a motion that Provincial Council elections should also be included in the terms of reference of a parliamentary select committee appointed to consider reforms to the current systems of Parliamentary and Local Authority elections.

The earlier motion moved in August did not include the Provincial Councils.
PA Parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardene heads the select committee that will make recommendations in respect of changes considered necessary to the Constitution and election laws.

The committee has been given time till January 31, 2004 to submit its report.

Bill to open water decentralisation flow
Legislation to enable the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) to enter into agreements with local councils and community-based authorities to decentralise the water and sewerage services is under way.

Housing and Plantation Infrastructure Minister Arumugam Thondaman presented the NWSDB (Amendment) Bill in parliament last week, seeking amendments to the NWSDB Law No.2 of 1974.

The Bill provides for approved water service agreements or the promotion or facilitation of schemes to establish joint venture partnerships to develop, rehabilitate, operate and maintain water services for any geographical area or areas with the approval of the Minister.

The Bill empowers the Minister to make order for the transfer of any NWSDB scheme within the area of any local authority, to such local authority or any community based organization established under the law.

Once a water service agreement has been signed, the maintenance and control of equipment and assets of the Board in respect of such a scheme will be handed over to the operator.

The Bill also includes a clause ensuring continued employment for all employees of the Board by the local authority or operator or community based organization but also gives an employee the option to retire. On making such a decision an employee will be, in addition to the retirement benefits, granted compensation of an amount determined by the Minister in concurrence with the Finance Minister.

The new piece of legislation would also enable the Board to fix rates and charges for the supply of water and sewerage services with the approval of the Public Utilities Commission.

Speaker orders probe on gate clash
Speaker Joseph Michael Perera has directed the Parliamentary Secretary General to investigate a clash between a senior official and a police officer at the Parliamentary complex gate.

Parliamentary sources said an incident over the parliamentary official's vehicle blocking the police officer's vehicle at the gate sparked the clash. They said the situation got out of hand when the driver of the police officer allegedly made a derogatory remark at the parliamentary official.

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