Appointments to two thousand new Grama Niladharis...

The awarding of appointment letters to two thousand applicants who have qualified upon the results of the examination and interview conducted by the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, for the recruitment to the Grade 3 of Grama Niladhari Service was held today (08.05.2024) at Temple Trees under the patronage of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and at the invitation of Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena.

President Ranil Wickramasinghe addressing the event commented that –

Today is a special day for you. After selected for this service, after completing the training, you are being appointed to the government service. You are returning home today with extreme happiness. I wish you all success and may you be assigned with many responsibilities in the government service. We are looking to make a better future for you and for the people. You have a big responsibility in that regard. You are responsible for the Grama Niladhari division which is the basic administrative division of the country.

Discharge those basic duties. There are other officers for that. All of you collect information for the government and carry out this administrative work. I have nothing new to say about it. You have not only administrative tasks. You should remember that. When the economy of this country collapsed, we were able to develop the economy of this country rapidly. It is not finished yet. An agreement has been reached with the IMF. A number of other conditions have been agreed upon and they will have to be implemented. Basically, after taking over the government in 2022, I, the Prime Minister and everyone, made the development of the country. Development did not start from the city but from the village. All our District Secretaries supported us. It was possible to implement a successful Yala season in 2023. Another successful Maha season followed. It was from that product that we got the opportunity to reach this stage. And we have further to go. Due to this success, according to the Prime Minister’s request, our treasury was able to provide the money for the recruitment of two thousand Grama Niladharis.

Now all of you have entered this service. Not only administrative works, there are several development works that has to be done to develop the economy. I would like to say about four things that especially Divisional Secretaries and Grama Niladharis will come together. First of all, we introduced the new Aswesuma scheme. There was the Samurdhi Programme. After that the Aswesuma was brought. Because the people of this country have suffered, we got the opportunity to negotiate with the World Bank and increase the allowances three times than Samurdhi.

We are implementing this system and the online system can be successfully implemented by the end of this year. This work will be easier next year. The amount of relief given to the village has increased. On the other hand, we have agreed to increase the number of beneficiaries. That’s an important point. The beneficiaries get a better income to live in the village. That income is also spent in the village itself. That’s a good priority. Low income earners are given 10 kilos of rice for two months. It has two aims. One, these people get another relief during the new-year season. The second one is that it has been instructed to buy this rice from small mills, and therefore small mills will also have some relief.

If possible, I told them to buy them at a price more than the market price. All this money comes into the village. Not to the city. This work is done to develop the village.

The third thing is giving the ownership of land. You may know that in some areas, there is no freehold title to land. There are only permits under the Land Development Act. There is no right until two, three or four generations. They can do farming, they can do other cultivation work, they can have a house where they live, but they don’t have the ownership.

Today we are looking to provide freehold deeds to all of them. Give the ownership. A big difference happens when you get the ownership. Moreover, you can go to the bank and get a loan to develop your own land. All this money comes back to the village. They don’t go out. Those who have the ownership will develop their land. They will develop the villages. Money goes to the village. The banking system is getting stronger. We are continuing that work. The matter is the agricultural modernization programme. We cannot be satisfied with our agricultural production. It can be paddy cultivation, it can be tea cultivation, it can be vegetable cultivation, but we cannot compete with the world. Our prices are not competitive. We only produce for the local market. That’s not enough.

During the time of the ancient kings in Sri Lanka, export was done in agriculture at the Dry Zone. We exported grains, spices and cinnamon from Dambadeniya to Kandy in the wet zone. During the Colonial reign, tea, rubber and coconut were exported and we could have done it even after independence. To develop our economy, we need to develop our agriculture. Therefore, to start this work at the Divisional Secretariat level, modernization committees have been appointed through Agrarian Service Centres and farmers have been brought together.

Currently, 25 million has been given to 25 Divisional Secretariat Divisions. I hope to increase 25 into hundred, one hundred and fifty by next year. All of you should participate in that. In particular, the poverty of the village cannot be alleviated without improving the agriculture of the village. If agriculture becomes successful, so will be the village.

Agricultural modernization is the way to move forward. We see that some villages, especially in the south, are becoming very developed due to tourism. Work towards the next decade. The purpose of all these is to uplift the economy of the village; to develop the village. We have provided infrastructure so far. Now the economy is being developed. Grama Niladharis were involved in developing the infrastructure at that time; reported about it. Today you all have to join this work. The difference is that the economy of the village where they live is developing. Majority have come from rural areas. Not from cities. We need to develop that rural area. Poverty must be eradicated. Especially in rural areas, education and health services should be improved. This is the beginning.

Deeds have to be given under Urumaya programme. There are eight hundred thousand of these deeds. Some are in the Survey Department. Some are in the Land Commissioner’s Department. Some of them are stuck in the Divisional Secretariat offices. As the Prime Minister has suggested a mobile service will be established very soon. Identify the deeds in your district. Get a report after next week on where the documents are stuck and where they are. We hope to provide all these documents within the next two months.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stated that - Public service is a noble service. The commitment of public servants to protect the existence, advancement and development of the state is considered as a special responsibility. Public service is more important than any other service. From the past, Grama Niladhari service is considered as a noble service. We believe that all of you who will assume the responsibility of Grama Niladhari service today will understand this deeply and act accordingly. Our history has recorded about Grama Niladharis who have later rendered a great service as Secretaries to Ministries, Additional Secretaries and District Secretaries after fulfilling their responsibilities in the field.

You are the first to reach the people in case of unexpected natural disasters such as floods. Grama Niladharis took initiative in such incidents. Even today there are officers who worked with such vigilance and dedication. Such a set of powers is vested in you. Think very deeply about the set of responsibilities you have in the performance of your duties. The government assigns you these responsibilities today with the confidence that you will fulfill the objectives and goals of the duty.

You all have submitted applications for 2000 appointments of Grama Niladharis in 2021. Although a long time has passed since then, with the blessing and approval of the President, the Ministry of Public Administration was able to approve the financial allocation from the Ministry of Finance, conduct the examination, and based on the results, make appointments to the vacant Grama Niladhari divisions. Appointments are given to those who have scored marks in the exam, passed the interviews and fulfilled qualifications.

The whole world suffered from the Covid pandemic. It is not a situation that anyone thought. Despite not having much experience in how to deal with such an event, the Grama Niladharis joined the doctors and other officials who faced the risk by going from village to village and working dedicatedly to control the pandemic. They gathered the people to protect public lives as much as possible.

By adding two villages and by splitting some villages into two parts, Grama Niladhari Divisions are formed. The main responsibilities of maintaining public services in these Grama Niladhari divisions, protecting the people, creating measures for the development of the people, and implementing the national policy and government’s development policy are assigned to Grama Niladharis. The President announced in the budget speech that every village and Grama Niladhari Division can be directed to a certain development programme. Not every village service division is comprised of everything. But we must remember that every Grama Niladhari division can be turned into an area that meets some of the production needs. We have grown crops with surplus food production to guide such a process. So have faith that we can.

You are always dealing with information. You provide all the information required through the Divisional Secretary to the general public service. The information you send must be correct at all times. You should be able to provide accurate information such as how many houses there are in the area, how much land can be cultivated, how many adults live in the area, etc. You will be appointed at a time when the Ministry is focusing on a targeted programme regarding this information.

The President took charge of the country at a time when the development of the country was hampered and in a time of anarchy and our District Secretaries worked with the President to face that challenge. The Divisional Secretaries and Grama Niladharis worked together to cover even the divisions where there was no specific officer to fulfill that duty. Today, the President was able to make our country a developing country. That is why we are enjoying economic and political stability today. You are the rural representatives who lead the way by creating the confidence to create the future Sri Lanka. We expect that you will fulfill your duties in the public service responsibly.

Our public representatives, parliamentarians, and Development Committee Co-chairpersons say that every Grama Niladhari does not have an office. A programme for that need is implemented according to a targeted plan.

We need to move to a programme that can quickly connect with central headquarters through technology and transform information. Providing that digital technological knowledge to all of you, recommending and starting related training courses from district to district have been commenced. In such a way you will be able to make yourself a capable citizen, a leader of citizens, a guide to development, and create a more advanced Grama Niladhari service than today. At no time, in any way, have these appointments been made with partiality. We were able to proceed according to the results of the examination conducted by the Commissioner General of Examinations. It is confidence we had in you. Do your duty responsibly. You are the initial member of the public administration in the village.

State Minister Ashoka Priyantha commented that –

If it is not for the President, the Prime Ministers, the Cabinet of Ministers and the ruling party who are in the front row, you will not get these appointments today. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t say that. When the President took over the country, there was no money to pay the government employees. As the Ministry of Public Administration, it was not possible to pay salaries to public servants in one day. We take this as an opportunity to thank the government officials for the support they have given us in some way to create stability in the country. In order to destroy the public service, some people are being subjected to riots and other distortions in the society while within those services. We should remember about them too. When the leaders of such perverted parties are going to give the judicial power of the village to their party members, our President and Prime Minister have made use of this day to give you power as a Grama Niladhari. If you want to free the village from that perverted mentality, use the legal power you get properly. Our District Secretaries are very happy about the new appointments.

Our Grama Niladhari Trade Unions and senior Grama Niladharis are also remembered. These days we must lead by example. We must set an example for the young Grama Niladharis. They should be integrated into the public administration. Many people have forgotten the main responsibilities of this process. The main responsibility of the public administration is to implement the decisions of the executive and the public policies. Not to rebel against the executive and legislature. The main responsibility of public administration is to implement the government policies approved by the government. There is still no definite definition of public administration. You should study about it. When this country faced the crisis, no one could accept the challenge. When they ran away from the challenge that day, look at the system that was built by the government that was formed by the two leaders in front of me. In that system, the people of the country have got an opportunity to live well. Even in the midst of difficulties, it was possible to run the state administration strongly. This is a great achievement.

A large gathering including Ministers and Parliamentarians, Governors, Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration Pradeep Yasaratne, District Secretaries, and government officials participated in this event.

Prime Minister’s Media