II. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS INTO THE POLICY DECISION PROCESS 12
A. Administrative structure of the government
To gain a clear understanding of the national institutional arrangements for integrating environmental concerns into the policy decision process, it is necessary to first examine the existing administrative structure of the government.
Under the present Constitution the government consists of three main segments.
The Cabinet of the central government is appointed by the President. Each minister holds a specific portfolio. The President is the head of the Cabinet.
Administratively, the country is divided into nine provinces and 22 districts. Each province encompasses two or three districts. Under a system of decentralization of administration, authority has been devolved by the central government to the nine provinces, each of which is administered by an elected Provincial Council. However, the central government retains control over specific subjects of national importance. (At present, there are no elected Provincial Councils in the northern and eastern provinces because of the ethnic crisis in those two regions). Each Provincial Council has an elected Chief Minister and a Board of Ministers, each of whom is assigned specific subjects.
For civil administration purposes, the local authorities in each province comprise one of three types, i.e., Municipal Councils, Urban Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas (Town Councils), depending on the size of the area administered and the degree of development of the area. The representative head of the central government in each district is the district Secretary (formerly Government Agent). The district Secretary supervises and coordinates the various administrative functions in the district. For that purpose, the administrative districts are divided into smaller units or divisions, each of which is supervised by a divisional Secretary (formerly Assistant Government Agent).
At the divisional and local levels, divisional Secretaries and local authorities perform the physical planning and other related environmental functions that have been delegated to them under their respective provincial statutes and laws. In terms of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, every Provincial Council may, subject to the provisions of the Constitution, introduce statutes applicable to the province for which it is established, with respect to any matter set out in List I of the Ninth Schedule, referred to as the Provincial Council List (annex I). List II, which is called the Reserved List, specifies subjects which are reserved for the central government (annex II). List III, called the Concurrent List, specifies the subjects which are handled by the central government and the Provincial Councils (annex III). The subject of "Protection of environment" appears both in the Provincial Council List and the Concurrent List. As such, the Provincial Councils have been granted legislative and administrative powers under the Constitution in respect of the environment.