Sri Lanka’s capital city development lacks transparency, citizen participation: ADB

ECONOMYNEXT- A lack of transparency and opportunity for citizen participation in governance is holding back the development of Sri Lanka’s capital city urban cluster, a new Asian Development Bank study said.

 "Weak governance structures and lack of citizen participation have been the defining features of local governments of most South Asian cities," the working paper titled ‘Exploring Strategies for Planned Urban Cluster Development in South Asia’ stated.
"Key governance issues in urban clusters like Colombo and Kathmandu are lack of capacity and implementation bottlenecks in providing participatory and transparent governance to the residents," the paper noted, authored by Sikha Jha, Sangeetha Raghuram and Siddhant Awasthi.
 An urban cluster is a collection of a core city and surrounding cities, which in the case of Sri Lanka, includes core Colombo, and the suburbs of Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Moratuwa, Kaduwela, Kolonnawa and Maharagama, ADB said.
It said that urban clusters promote local, regional and international growth, and Colombo is an emerging urban cluster in South Asia.
"These clusters hold the potential to become engines of growth, transforming South Asia into a strong global economic region."
The multilateral lender proposes measuring development plans against benchmarks, setting up strong institutions, monitoring, preventing, and penalizing plan violations; and encouraging participation of both citizens and elected representatives at various government levels.
"An integrated financial management information system can serve as an urban cluster resource-planning platform to explore outsourcing of tax and fee collections as well as leverage digital platforms for citizen engagement, measuring citizen satisfaction levels, and complaint redressal," it said.
Colombo is being developed under the Megapolis project to become an ‘open city’, according to the government.
However, the initiative is undertaken through the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry of the national government, instead of through local government.
The Megapolis project had identified complex administrative structures and bureaucracy as an obstacle to development, and had set good governance as a key goal.
The project was planned with specialized urban zones in the cluster.
The ADB study also noted that Colombo faces severe flooding and waterlogging issues, which requires attention.
Colombo has greater tourism potential, ADB said.
"Initiatives related to enhancement of tourism infrastructure can be undertaken, such as accommodation facilities, fast and convenient connections to major points of interest, and effective marketing of tourist destinations," the study stated. (Colombo/Apr16/2019-SB)

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