by The Sunday Times, Colombo, February 22, 2019
The ‘Framework for an Economic Development Master Plan’ aiming to be a tool to create a ‘blueprint’ for long-term growth and development of the Northern Province was launched today at the Finance Ministry.
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, addressing a gathering at the launch said during the last four years the Ministry gave considerable importance to rebuilding the Northern Province by addressing a range of post-conflict issues including empowering communities, providing relief for marginalised women and creating funding mechanisms to address the concerns of the war-affected.
“In launching this Framework drafted by academics and professionals from the North, we have now the possibility to transform these reconciliation oriented development initiatives into a decade-long programme for the sustainable reconstruction and economic growth of the North. The Government realises that development and reconciliation are long-term endeavours, and is prepared to rise up to that challenge,” Minister Samaraweera said.
During the launch TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran raised urgent short term requirements among the youth and communities in the North including livelihood and employment generation.
Minister Sumanthiran added that in 2014 alone more than 12,000 youths had fled the North owing to a lack of opportunities. In response Minister Samaraweera said a funding mechanism would soon be established to provide decent employment for these youths.
A committee to develop the report was established on the request of the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in acknowledgement of the inadequate development outcomes to reconstruct the Northern economy, including the crisis of indebtedness and the lack of viable employment and incomes for the local population.
The report aims to make three important contributions:
1. Highlight specific development issues and challenges in the North due to the legacy of war which require a unique policy approach
2. Provide a perspective from the North, with committee members drawing insight from local knowledge, networks and research
3. To take a holistic macro view of the economy and provides direction for development over the medium to long-term (2030).
Further this framework is intended as a resource for policymakers, implementing agencies, donors and other actors to support future economic development design and planning processes concerning the North.
It reflects upon the past decade of post-war development, and identifies priorities for policy design, including a Master Plan for the economic development of the Northern Province over the next decade.
Minister Samaraweera elaborating on the government’s commitment to development projects in the North said ” for the first time, Budget 2018 dedicated a segment to reconciliation with over 20 projects for the North by allocating over Rs. 12,000 million.”
The launch was attended by Parliamentarians of the Northern Province, UN resident Representatives, members of Donor Agencies, Secretary to Treasury Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, the Governor CBSL, and other senior officials.