Responding to the recent statement issued by the Friday Forum titled “Post-war realities in the Northern Province”, the opposition leader of the Northern Provincial Council last night said although the Friday Forum has met cross section of the society in Jaffna & Kilinochchi, its representatives have not made any attempt to seek the opinion of the Leader of Opposition of the Northern Provincial Council.
Sending a letter to the Friday Forum, S. Thavarajah, the opposition leader of the Northern Provincial Council said; “It is evident from the Chief Minister’s Speech that neither the President nor the government is causing any hindrance to invite funds from the Tamil Diaspora and to start investment as stated in the Election Manifesto. However, up to now not a single investment has come into the Northern Province. Who is responsible for this? Whether it is the inability of the elected body or the impediment caused by the Government?”
We publish below the letter in full;
The Friday Forum
No.2, Greenlands Avenue,
Post-war realities in the Northern Province
This is in response to a statement released by Friday Forum on 01st of June 2014 titled ‘’Post-war realities in the Northern Province’’ signed by Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Prof. Savitri Goonesekerere & Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka on behalf of the forum.
Although your representatives, according to your statement, have met cross section of the society in Jaffna & Kilinochchi, they have not made any attempt to seek the opinion of the Leader of Opposition of the Northern Provincial Council in this respect before releasing the statement.
Nevertheless, I wish to place before you my views and concerns with regard to the statement.
The statement inter-alia states that ‘’ Forum is, however, perturbed by the hindrances that impede the proper functioning of the NPC’’. Further it is stated ‘’ It is the sincere hope of Friday Forum that the Governor and the President will extend their vital support and cooperation to the Chief Minister and the duly elected NPC by the provision of the requisite financial and administrative resources to enable the NPC to discharge its duties and responsibilities to the citizenry’’.
Before I place my views and concerns, I wish to bring the following facts for your information.
1. Allocation of funds to the NPC by the Government
1.1 Recurrent Expenditure:
According to the National Budget estimates the recurrent expenditure allocation for the NPC for the year 2014 is Rs.11,622/- million. In terms of per-capita expenditure, this amounts to Rs.16,369/-. The per-capita recurrent expenditure allocation to other eight provinces are less than Rs.10,000/-.
1.2 Capital Expenditure:
According to the National Budget estimates for the year 2014, the NPC has got the largest amount of capital expenditure allocation of Rs.5,831/- million as compared to other eight provinces. The allocation to other provinces are as follows:
Further, the allocation of Rs.5,831/- million for the year is part of Rs.21,967/- million ear-marked for spending through the NPC for the following programmes during the period 2013-2016.
2. Special Project – Jaffna & Kilinochchi Water Supply & Sanitation Project.
The Government has secured a loan of USD 138.00 million for the above project. The scope of the project is (a) Iranamadu Tank Rehabilitation (b) Water Supply Pipe Lines & 19 Towers (c) Sewerage system for Jaffna MC. This Project was initiated in 2002 and the project feasibility was carried out by SMEC at the request of ADB. The total cost of the project is about Rs.23,000/- million including GOSL contribution. The Government has signed an agreement with the ADB in February 2011 and still continues to pay commitment fees to the ADB for the said commitment.
Since this subject matter is coming under the purview of the Provincial Council, they are the implementing agency. As such, their consent is needed to go ahead with the project. The Provincial Council from the time they were elected to power in September 2013 has been dilly-dallying on giving their consent & because of this delay now the AFD, one of the funder, has indicated their decision to cancel the funding of USD 48.00 million towards this Project. I understand that the ADB may also decide to cancel the loan if the decision is prolonged.
From the above, you would understand whether the Government is extending its support and cooperation to the NPC or not. There is no hindrance or impediment for the NPC to carry out the above Projects and Programmes of works. The only impediment is the inability and inefficiency of the governing body of the NPC for the last 08 Months.
Since the elected body took in charge in September 2013, the Provincial Council has not passed a single statute, except the appropriation Bill. Without passing a statute how can a provincial Council collect its own revenue (In addition to the allocation by the government). Even to administer the subjects in the Provincial Council List statutes need to be passed.
Further, in the election manifesto of the TNA for the Provincial Council Election under the sub heading ‘’Development with National and International Assistance’’, it is stated as follows:
‘’TNA would engage with the Sri Lankan State, the International Community and the Tamil Diaspora to address the issue of long-term investment and aid in the province. The Tamil Diaspora is an important segment in the securing of regeneration and well being for the affected people and we would obtain their invaluable aid and expertise.’’
In a speech delivered by the Chief Minister Justice C V Wigneswaran at the Taj Samudra Hotel on 13th February 2014 at The National Conference on the theme ‘’Postwar Socio Economic Development’’ , he has inter-alia stated as follows:
‘’On a positive note, during my recent discussions with the President, in the presence of his Secretary, the Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretary to the Cabinet, we discussed the
mutual benefits that could be reaped by the Central Government and the Northern Provincial Council by allowing a smooth flow of funds from our brethren abroad, through State organs. One of the difficulties faced by us was the delay in donor monies reaching us. Since valuable Foreign Currencies could flow into the coffers of the State I said they must ensure the speedy delivery of equivalent local currency to the periphery. The President and his advisors were seemingly very accommodative saying so long as the donations are approved in advance by the State the passage of the finances to their ultimate destination would be unhindered’’.
It is evident from the Chief Minister’s Speech that neither the President nor the government is causing any hindrance to invite funds from the Tamil Diaspora and to start investment as stated in the Election Manifesto. However, up to now not a single investment has come into the Northern Province. Who is responsible for this? Whether it is the inability of the elected body or the impediment caused by the Government?
I trust the above facts would enlighten you on the post-war realities in the Northern Province.
Since your statement was given wider publicity in the media, I am compelled to release this letter to the media in order to enlighten the public on the correctness of your statement.
Leader of Opposition,
Northern Provincial Council.
Telephone No: 0212057083
Mobile No: 0774863893