The Government will not go ahead with plans to set up a statutory authority to replace the Colombo Municipal Council, President Mahinda Rajapaksa told his Ministers on Wednesday.
He said the suggestion first came from a Sri Lankan living in the US when he visited that country on a previous occasion. He had cited examples in the US and asked whether Colombo could also have one modelled on those lines, he added.
President Rajapaksa said the media had gone very far with speculative stories on the matter. So much so, some news reports have said such an authority was to come under Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The latter had even received a call from a senior French diplomat in Colombo asking whether reports of his heading the new authority were true.
President Rajapaksa declared that the government would not go ahead with the move. He said the ministers should explain this to the public and dispel any misconceptions.
The Sunday Times of September 12 revealed that a Development Authority is to be set up for the City of Colombo.
The report added “the move may see the abolition of the centuries-old Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) and the proposed authority being vested with all functions now being exercised by the CMC.”
The report also revealed that “a hint that the new statutory authority is in the making came from Wimal Weerawansa, Minister of Construction, Engineering Services, Housing and Common Amenities.
Speaking as the chief guest at a construction exhibition at the BMICH, Mr. Weerawansa said there would soon be a boost to Sri Lanka’s construction industry when the new statutory authority is set up.”
The proposed move by the government drew angry responses from opposition political parties. Both the United National Party (UNP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) declared that the move would disenfranchise voters in Colombo. Both parties had planned a countrywide campaign to protest over this.