Delivering a strong maiden speech, Wigneswaran passionately cemented hiscommitment to securing Tamil rights before the provincial assembly he leads. Tamils,the Chief Minister said, were proud citizens of Sri Lanka, not as people on lease but asco-owners of the land.But while these broad brush policy statements remain crucial to its mandate in theSeptember poll, more fundamental, senior Tamil politicians say, will be the bread andbutter issues.For the TNA, with 30 seats in the 38 member Council, the fundamental question will behow and when funds will be disbursed from the Government in Colombo and if this willbe adequate to meet the needs of the Province.Dharmalingam Sithdharthan, the mild-mannered leader of PLOTE, a TNA constituentparty, said Friday’s session had been momentous, but remained cautious about thefuture. “The real question is what kind of financial devolution there will be from theGovernment in Colombo,” he warns. “Without that, there is no work to be done and wecannot meet the people’s expectations.”FundingThe Government has allocated Rs. 17 billion for the NPC in its estimated expenditurestatement for 2014. But only Rs. 5 billion of that allocation is intended for capital – or new – expenditure. Rs. 12 billion will be recurrent, largely going towards maintainingthe provincial bureaucracy.For a new Council, Sithdharthan explains, Rs. 5 billion is virtually nothing. “TheCouncil itself has to be set up, vehicles have to be purchased, infrastructure put inplace,” he explains. There will be little left for tangible development work, even if Colombo actually disburses the full allocation.Funding concerns, rarely an issue for other provincial councils that are run by theruling party, with resources of the central Government at their disposal, will be criticalfor the NPC. As the only provincial council in the country run by an opposition party theNPC administration harbours legitimate fear of having its wings clipped financially if the Government decides to withdraw support for the Council.The Wigneswaran administration’s success will also depend on if it can convince civilservants in the Province to share its vision for the north.Provincial bureaucracyIn the 25 years since the 1988 North East Provincial Council was dissolved byPresident Ranasinghe Premadasa, the provincial bureaucracy has remained in place. Administrative officers attached to the Province have run their own show, functioningunder the Provincial Governor’s Secretariat in the absence of an elected council.