Putting the cart before the horse

cart-before-the-horse-smallThe expression putting the cart before the horse is an idiom used to suggest something is done contrary to a conventional expected order is about confusing cause and effect. While the Government is struggling to put the country on to a new modernization track with its initiative to discuss the future of the Development (Special Provisions) Bill  within the constitutional and legal framework considering the suggestions and amendments made by the Provincial Councils; the Northern Provincial Council has not given sufficient time to study the Bill perhaps they feel it is ‘Putting the cart before the horse’ the figure of speech means doing things the wrong way round or with the wrong emphasis and not surprising to see many other provincial councils too are not supportive of the Bill.

The Development (Special Provisions) Bill is an attempt to get government institutions to work together so that businessmen, entrepreneurs and investors are not dissuaded with so many levels of government and there are so many institutions, so many bureaucratic processes at present that discourage the entrepreneurship and investment. On the other hand it is true when it comes to the subject of economic development; this Bill could violate the subject of development that is vested in the Provincial Councils by the constitution. It is the hope that suggestions and amendments from the Provincial Councils would help to resolve the issues as the Prime Minister has said the Bill does not aim at taking over any powers exercised by the Provincial Councils. The position maintained by the Chief Ministers who met the Prime Minister is that the powers contained in the draft bill should be given to a special representative commission and as it is not appropriate to vest the powers in a particular individual. In fact, this draft Bill is almost similar to the Mahaweli Development Authority Act, where the Government wants to ensure rapid development, and advocating for special laws, a democratic process with many checks and balances incorporated in it. But the Provincial Councils are very skeptical about the timing of the Bill been rushed through when a wider subject of New Constitution is being developed for the country.

The Prime Minister has clarified the provisions of the Bill to those Chief Ministers who accepted his invitation for a review of the Bill and their suggestions are to be incorporated into the Bill after discussions; it will facilitate the investors to easily get their work done through a one-stop shop is aimed at speeding up the development process. At a time when the whole country is looking forward to the new constitution expected to devolve powers to the Provincial Councils, this Bill was considered to putt the cart before the horse. Therefore many Provincial Councils have opposed the Bill in its present form. The resolution to adopt the Development (Special Provisions) Bill was unanimously defeated in the Northern Provincial Council, and was also defeated in the Uva and the North Central Provincial Councils. Some have raised issues that it infringes on the powers of the Provincial Councils. Parliament cannot pass a Bill that infringes on the powers of the Provincial Councils and if it is done it will be challenged in courts. Eastern Provincial Council has been wise not to rush into a decision and have given its members time to review the Bill. The draft bill will be open for discussion and for amendment after it is presented in parliament next February.