Northern Province Governor Reginold Cooray (right) welcoming Central Bank Governor
Indrajit Coomaraswamy at the Jaffna Investor Forum
The New Indian Express: The Chief Minister of the Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, boycotted the International Investment Forum organised by Northern Province Governor Reginold Cooray in Jaffna yesterday
In a letter written to Cooray last week, Wigneswaran objected to the governor organising the forum without consulting him.
He said that the elected representatives of the people of the Northern Province ought to have been consulted on the needs of the province before inviting investors. The proper way was to have conducted a survey to find out what kind of investment people in the war-affected province want and then gone on to invite the right kind of investors. The governor did nothing of that sort. Wigneswaran said he would not be attending the forum as he had to attend a meeting on the development of the Northern Province with the prime minister in Colombo.
The investment forum is seen in political circles as part of a plan by politicians of national parties in the Central government in Colombo, to isolate and undercut Chief Minister Wigneswaran and the Northern Provincial Council run by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The powers-that-be in the Maithripala Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party, as well as those in the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led United National Party may have been behind the governor’s move. Although the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution has officially devolved some powers to the elected Provincial Councils, they are not actually devolved.
There is also a tendency among provincial governors to dictate terms to the elected chief ministers or just sideline them. Governors can do what they like, partly because the Centre will back them and partly because provincial officers, whether those in the administration or the police, come under them. On the other hand, the governors say in their defence that they can play a positive role in the administration and development of the province given the fact that the provincial administration may need the support of the Centre to execute and fund schemes, and they, as the link between the province and the Centre, can help get Central help.
The governors also complain that the chief ministers do not acknowledge their potential to help and consider their actions to be interfering and highhanded. As an experienced administrator who had worked with two Tamil chief ministers in the Eastern Province told Express, good relations between the chief minister and the governor could go a long way in ensuring a smooth and sound administration and also economic development.
But ever since an elected Provincial Council came into being in the North, there has been a tussle between the governor and the chief minister. Neither Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri nor H.M.G.S. Palihakkara could get along with Chief Minister Wignesewaran. Now, there is a simmering conflict between Wigneswaran and Reginold Cooray.