Led by Chairperson Patali Champika Ranawaka, the 18th meeting of the Committee on Ways and Means convened in Parliament on November 22, focusing on crucial discussions regarding the “Aswasuma” benefit program and the involvement of Grama Niladhari officials in its implementation.
Representatives from various entities, including the Welfare Benefit Board, Director Generals of Institutions, Grama Niladhari officials Trade Unions, and several associations representing Grama Niladhari officials, were summoned for this pivotal session.
Central to the discussions was the necessity for the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils, and Local Government to address concerns pertaining to the service constitution of Grama Niladhari officials. This is crucial for the successful engagement of Grama Niladhari officials in executing the appeal process of the “Aswasuma” benefit program and facilitating its second phase. The Committee on Ways and Means expressed readiness to facilitate discussions and provide necessary coordination to resolve these issues.
Key points highlighted by the Grama Niladhari officials included the need for specific written authorizations defining their roles, the appointment of administrative Grama Niladhari officials as supervisory officers, clarity on legal protection, work responsibilities, stipends aligned with the cost of living, and defining their roles precisely.
Chairperson Patali Champika Ranawaka stressed the importance of a cohesive program for “Aswasuma,” drawing parallels to previous government initiatives such as ‘Vidatha’ centers and the Central Bank’s loan scheme. He recommended engaging 332 Administrative Grama Niladhari officials and representatives from trade unions to address accountability, technical modifications, allowances, and agreements pertaining to the “Aswasuma” program.
Additionally, suggestions were made to delineate the responsibilities of Grama Niladhari officials in writing, review punitive sections of relevant acts concerning their authority delegation, and consider grassroots opinions while setting program criteria.
Furthermore, the meeting touched upon the human-elephant conflict in the Irudeniya area, showcasing the committee’s broad range of concerns.
State Minister Hon. Shasheendra Rajapaksa and several Members of Parliament including Hon. Ashok Abeysinghe, Hon. Sanjeeva Edirimanna, Hon. Nalaka Bandara Kottegoda, and Hon. Wasantha Yapabandara actively participated in this consequential Committee meeting.