The Divi Neguma Bill was passed in Parliament Tuesday with amendments by a majority of 107 votes. The bill received 160 votes in favour and 53 against. The United National Party, Democratic National Party and the Tamil National Alliance voted against the Bill.
Divineguma is to establish the Department of Divineguma Development by amalgamating the Samurdhi Authority of Sri Lanka Southern Development Authority of Sri Lanka and the Udarata Development Authority of Sri Lanka to establish Divineguma Community Based Organizations at rural level and to provide for a co- coordinating network at the district level and national level; to establish Divineguma Community Based Banks and Divineguma Community Based Banking Societies; in furtherance of the economic development process and in giving effect to the national policy of alleviating poverty and ensuring social equity.
Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, called for a division by name. Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne. who attended Parliament after almost six months was also present during the vote.
Winding up the debate, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa reiterated that no one would lose employment as a result of the Bill, which would form a separate department nullifying five other authorities. including the existing Samurdhi Authority.
"It was alleged that powers of the Provincial Councils will be reduced or taken away with the introduction of the Divi Neguma Department. I challenge those who are saying this to show how it happens. In fact, this will ensure powers at rural level and ensure jobs and other benefits of those Samurdhi officers," he added.
He also said the proposed amendment would incorporate a Provincial Councilor and a Pradeshiya Sabha member to the community based committee to be appointed under the Bill. According to Rajapaksa all possible amendments proposed by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Ceylon Workers’ Congress and other parties representing estate workers and other UPFA constituents had been incorporated as much as possible.
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