Sri Lanka is a unitary republic located in South Asia with three main levels of governance: national, provincial, and local. The country’s process of decentralization was initiated through an amendment of the constitution in 1987, intended to mitigate ethnic tensions and instate a shared service delivery system between the elected authorities at the provincial and local levels and the centrally controlled deconcentrated arms at the district and divisional levels. Despite the constitutional reforms and efforts to increase local participation through the delegation of power to provincial councils and local authorities, the central government retains a dominant role in planning, finances, staffing, and service delivery functions. Political and economic crises in recent years seem to have exacerbated the country’s tendency towards centralization: provincial council elections haven’t been held since 2014, while local government elections (due in 2022) have also been postponed.

Subnational governance structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessments

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: Sri Lanka 2023 (PDF / Excel)

Additional resources

Sri Lanka Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

The Local Government System in Sri Lanka (Commonwealth Local Government Forum)

Local government country profile: Sri Lanka (UN Women)

State Structure in Sri Lanka (CIM 2007)

Budget Brief: Cycle & Processes Sri Lanka 2019 (UNICEF 2019)

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Last updated: May 7, 2024