Economic development framework for North launched | Sunday Observer

Economic development framework for North launched

A well-studied economic development framework for the North was launched in Colombo last week.

The concerted effort to develop the North has created a certain degree of optimism. The measures taken for reconciliation, the empowerment of marginalised women and enabling access to funding will propel development in the North, Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mangala Samaraweera said.

With the priority given to development and reconciliation by the Government, the initiative taken to develop the North in a systematic way will ensure that the benefit of the peace dividend is received by the region.

The key issue in the region is indebtedness and the recent debt write-off for Northern women costing Rs. 1.4 billion, has brought relief to them.

Last year, the Government allocated Rs. 500 million to provide micro finance facilities and Rs. 5.2 billion for skills development. An additional Rs. 4 billion has been allocated for this year. Funding has also been provided for small scale fisher families.

Plans are under way to set up an economic centre in Jaffna soon. There will be Rs. 250 million allocated for storage facilities and these are expected to revive the economy in the North.

Under the Gamperaliya program projects worth Rs. 5,000 million will be set up in the North. In the upcoming budget too there will be further re-building proposals for the North with the tax payers’ money. The framework will be reconciliation-oriented development programs to propel growth and social development.

“Several visits to the region were made to better understand the debt problems in the area and we met all the stakeholders. The visits enabled us to have a fairly good understanding of the problem of indebtedness. The challenges in overcoming the debt issue was a development challenge. This also was acute due to the unemployment problem and solving these needed a clear strategy, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.

The event also marked the commissioning of the economic development framework report based on visits to the North and strategy to address the debt issue.

“The roadmap should be converted into policies, projects and programs as this is a very important and encouraging start to develop the North with a focus attention,” he said.

The detailed study of indebtedness and its implications helped support to formulate the framework which provides the direction to develop the North. The impact of indebtedness is severe. The region is grappled with poverty and nutrition level is low. The reconciliation strategy has not been able to achieve holistic success level, Chair of the Framework Committee B. Sivatheepan said.

“Insufficient investment to transfer technological advancements and lack of workforce participation are key issues in the North while the need is there to highlight specific issues. The framework is a forward looking tool that provides direction to medium and long term planning, he said.

The framework draws the attention to more resilient foundation to achieve growth and calls for comprehensive policy to meet goals. It will be a realistic and dynamic tool for Northern development, he said.

The framework integrates the economic challenges in to the national policy and provides guidelines to address the issues of the region. The building of human capital and working capital is important together with increased women participation in the labourforce, Member of the Framework Committee Dr. Ahilan Kadirgamar said.

According to the priorities in the Report and proposed ways forward the social foundation which includes shelter, food, nutrition and health needs an enabling environment.

The technology transfer will put Northern Sri Lanka in to a sustainable path. There is a need for a policy and research based institution and it was suggested that a branch of Institute of Policy Studies to be set up in Jaffna. It was also suggest that a development financing entity to be set up to help funding and support in business plan development, he said.