14 October, 2019

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Tasks Ahead In The Northern Province

By S.Sivathasan

S.Sivathasan

To move away from the visible marks of war, there have been options. Bland restitution was one. But veering from it and embarking on reconstruction to meet heavier needs of the future became the preferred choice. Such policy is manifest in the North for highways. Quite conspicuous in visibility is the redevelopment of some of the important highways. But were the corollaries thought of and planned for or are they being met? If the Provincial and Central government move in tandem, they can yet be realized giving a new dimension to the programme of economic and social regeneration.

Highways

By all accounts, visual reports have it that A class highways in the North are executed well and without discrimination. They certainly impress foreign personnel and casual visitors while they serve the purpose of easy transport and comfortable travel. But prying eyes which peer beyond see an unspectacular interior. Staid statistics of trade, transport, industry and construction which account for nearly half the GDP of the nation, depict a picture more telling than photos or a video. When these four sectors are grouped together for the nation, the total in 2011 was Rs.3,051 billion and in contrast the North had Rs. 66 billion for the same four sectors. A stark picture of 1 of 9 Provinces, having 1 of 46 of GDP share emerges. By comparison, the Western Province had 23 of 46.

Today the North has highways it deserves, but not an economy to match. Is it correct policy to have roads first? Definitely yes. But no programme is yet in place to expand the economy even though a road network is at hand. More pertinently, people’s wellbeing demands it and with expedition. Quite a substantial component in the nation’s GDP is transport. Prior to 1983, under normal order of things, the North pulsated with life with a thriving economy. It reflected in the transport sector. As at end of 2011, when the country’s transport was Rs.754 billion of GDP, the share of the North was Rs. 28 billion or 1/27th. One may say that transport is now at a low profile, since there is precious little to move to and fro. That is precisely the point being made here.

Regeneration

The statistics noted above relate a harrowing tale consigning the people to an impoverished life. They relate the real story as it manifests at the hearth, the closet and the home. Changing it is the task of the government. The Provincial government with its feet and its ear to the ground has of necessity to be unfailing in its mission. The central government needs to be proactively supportive with resources. Why such support? The thirty year war has destroyed the economic assets of the North and knocked off the income source even to make ends meet. A tax base to provide some revenue worthy of mention does not exist. Hence the persistent allusion to: Reparations, ‘Marshal Plan’, Institutional borrowing, Multi-lateral funding and Central government financing. These are indispensable in the short term to provide the basis for intermediate and long term growth.

Economic activity in agriculture, industry, fishing, trade, construction and transport require a strong stimulus from the state. The Services Sector has to achieve more than proportionate growth compared to agriculture and industry. Only then can the current 3.7% share of the North in the nation’s GDP, change for the better. Even to reach a 3rd of WP’s current GDP, the NP will need a 4 fold increase in several segments. For the last 6 years NP has occupied the last place among all the Provinces. Was this the position 4 and 5 decades ago? All island per capita income in 2011 was RS.313,000. For Western Province it was Rs. 490,000. For Northern Province it was Rs.200,000. When there is a slide all round, individual incomes can only be the lowest, consistently and continuously. The people have the resilience not to reconcile to this position.

Slide Among Sectors

To which sectors should investment capital be directed? To areas which generate both income and employment. In some sectors there is both an economic and a social angle. Areas devastated by war and neglected for long certainly require concerted attention. One such is fishing. In total, for almost 20 of the 30 years, that community was excluded from pursuing its activity and was made bone dry. Where do they stand now? This section of society which together with its counterpart in the East produced 2/3rds of the country’s fish, six decades ago produced 1/3rd in 2012. This performance was despite the North East operating 52% of the craft. The North operated 5 Multi Day Inboard Motor Boats in 2012 while the country operated 4,241 of the same type. The East operated 583 such craft and as per information a few years back, not one was owned by a Tamil. The above account emphasizes the pressing need for affirmative action to revive the industry, modernize it and to resuscitate the community.

The nation’s Factory Industry (FI) was Rs.1,084.2 billion of GDP in 2011, while the Northern Province had Rs. 3.4 billion. The North plagued by turmoil forfeited its consideration by BOI investors. The importance of BOI enterprises may be assessed when it is known that employment in that segment is over a third of public sector employment and gross export earnings in 2012 were Rs. 702 billion. Roads done so far are a good beginning and an elementary requirement for SEZ is getting into place. Factory Industry needs large volumes of transport and NP lacks in many elements that compose transport. Of particular importance are goods transport vehicles where the banking sector can enable individual investors in procurement.

There are a few other areas that merit attention. Among two of the major sectors are, Domestic Trade and construction. The former is a study in contrast with Rs.702 billion for the nation and Rs. 8 billion or 1/87th for NP. A similar story holds for Construction, where the national figure was Rs. 511 billion and the Provincial one Rs. 26 billion. There are two important utilities besides: electricity and water supply. As for the former an appreciable amount has been accomplished. What remains to be done on the distribution side may be seen from the fact that the consumer accounts in the North are 1/28th of the nation’s. Water supply situation is infinitely different. The North has 1 consumer account for every 200 in the country. As for the utilities, we blame no one. We are experiencing collective deprivation for collective moral default. All we urge of the state is to afford to the North an essential service, while catching up on lost time.

The Challenge

When the current status of the Northern Province is examined, the most glaring sight is deficiency on all sides and in every respect. The burden to be borne and to be shared by the Centre and the Province is Himalayan. Mobilising finances is primary among them. The picture presented through a few studies is to throw the searchlight on the magnitude of the damage and regress that have come about most regrettably and very prominently in the North. The tasks ahead and the immensity of cerebral activity that are called for are also highlighted. It is believed that the the Province is on the threshold of change when the first elected Council is set up. A few years will show how the Council braces up to the challenge and how the Centre would respond.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    This is from a Tamil racist point of view. None is relevant.

    First thing is to resettle all 150,000 Muslims chased away by Tamils in 1990. Otherwise there will NEVER be peace in the north.

    • 0
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      Thanks fcuk-shima. You seem to luv the Muslims now.
      Please take a DNA to check of there is Don Alvin blood in you.
      You are a real two tongued – kabaragoya.

    • 0
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      Fathima Fuku – Even the SLMC’s figures are around 50,000 Muslims evicted from Jaffna. Are you including in your imagined 150,000 those Pakistanis, Afghans to whom a Muslim Asst. Commissioner of Immigration (since then jailed) manufactured passports to smuggle these terrorists into India? Not summa, of course, in the old tradition of the community.

      Backlash

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        This has nothing to do with me. This is about Muslim sisters and brothels who were evicted from Jaffna in 1990. They still live in tents.

        Don’t you know population grows? Not only Muslims. Tamil population has grown more.

        It is natural that population has grown from 1990 to 2013. Its 23 years.

        Just give them their land back in Jaffna and there will be peace.

        Learn from UK how to live peacefully without pushing more and more Muslims to take up arms.

        • 0
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          WOW Fuku fuku, I am impressed.
          what a change. why so?
          Was it Navi Pillay?
          I hope you spread this to Gota
          BBS, JHU etc too, please!

  • 0
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    This is where the Tamil expatriates and diaspora could play a positive role by investing in the land of their birth. They could bring in technology, management skills and finances they have acquired in the west to help their people stand on their feet. They have an advantage of access to the western markets as well.

    Of course the govt needs to create an enabling environment, without harrassing those who wish to return and invest. As reccomended by Mrs Pillai the militarisation of the North must cease and civilian administration must take its place. The people must be allowed and enpowered to develop the land and industries which have lapsed into a state of neglect and disrepair.

    • 0
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      Safa

      What you say is correct, But many a Tamil have tried and failed. Tamil Hindus quote these words often. “Avan intri oer anuvum asaiyaathu” Without HIM not an atom can move. HIM denotes GOD. You know who,in the North. Besides Him are the lesser Gods.Their venal appetite is insatiable. It was not without reason or sense that LLRC declared repeatedly that the para-militaries should be dismantled. Experience has shown that unless this is done it is easier to take a camel through the eye of a needle than to see a project through.

  • 0
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    /*

    This is where the Tamil expatriates and diaspora could play a positive role by investing in the land of their birth.

    */

    Can you kindly show examples of Tamil diaspora building things ANYWHERE on the island for the last 30 years please? You may for example show projects by organisation such as Canadian Tamil Congress.

    cheers.

    • 0
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      Plenty.

      LTTE 1-6 bunker.
      LTTE 1-4 bunker.
      LTTE 1-14 bunker.
      LTTE Puthumathalan bunker.
      LTTE air base.
      LTTE hangers – Iranaimadu.

      All these were done thanks to the kind donations from the Tamilian Diaspora.

    • 0
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      How about LTTE businesses that were earning money for the war ?

      That is all their – Tamils living overseas – some are running cleaning businesses, investment.

    • 0
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      If you walk around Wellawatte you may see such projects. All money from the Diaspora.

  • 0
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    Fathima

    Department of Census & Statistics (DCS) reports on the basis of All Island statistics as follows:

    1981 Muslims in NP 54,534
    2012 Muslims in NP 34,040
    The All Island Muslim population increased by 78.6%, in 1981 – 2012
    By the same token it can be assumed that NP population increased to 97,397
    Discounting those who are resettled, the balance to be accommodated if they so wish are: 63,357

    • 0
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      I’m not talking about NP. I’m talking about JAFFNA.

      There were 75,000 Muslims in Jaffna in 1990. Now NATURAL population growth has made them 150,000. Give them their land, houses, businesses in JAFFNA, not Puttlam.

      Vanni Muslim population is a separate thing. LTTE could NOT chase away Muslims in Vanni. Leave them alone.

      The problem is as usual is Jaffna.

      • 0
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        Where did you get this figure of 75,000 as against Sivathsan’s statistical figure of 54,534 for the entire N. P which includes Jaffna? Are you trying to imagine that Jaffna is bigger than the whole N. P?

        Sengodan. M

        • 0
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          His figure is for 1981.

          Muslims were genocide by Tamils from Jaffna in 1990.

          Obviously there is nothing called karma!!

  • 0
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    Sivathasan:

    Do you people have any shame and self respect ?

    For you people, there is only one province or maximum two for Sri Lanka. There are no other provinces and there are no other people affected by poverty or war.

    Don’t you think that you people are just bunch of GREEDY RACISTS ?

    See how your RACIST POLITICIANS behave. They were LTTE at one time and forgotten their own. Now, they sell TRIBALISM ?

    Don’t you think that SINHALA People should be brain dead in order to listen to you peoples’ crap every day ?

    • 0
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      Jim Nutty:
      You are a fkin idiot!

    • 0
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      Shame? Self respect?

      IF Tamils had any of that, NO TAMIL is now living in SL!

      How can any Tamil with any self worth live in SL after 1958, 1977, 1983 and 2009?

      When Navi Pillay came some Tamil women wept rolling on the road. Then next day a TNA MP threatens to take up arms again. More Tamil women will roll on roads and weep if they take up arms again.

      We are talking about 89,000 Tamil Mahaveer war widows here and you are talking about self respect!! What planet are you from?

  • 0
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    during the war, Lot of Tamils would have been died. Even then, the Tamil population in the Northern province had increased by one point six million.

    How do you explain that ?

    Kallathoni Migration to the new homeland ?

    • 0
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      Are you saying your NAVY is rubbish?

      • 0
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        Actually yes.

        If the navy has brains, they can (even now) pack hundreds of “boat people” into boats and send them to the bottom of the sea without a trace promising a cheap journey to Australia with a boat concealing a time bomb.

        Oh! They went to Australia! May be still in Indonesia!

    • 0
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      Yes.

      And Colombo too.

      Tamils in Colombo were only 80,000 in 1981.
      In 2012 it is an astronomical 250,000.

      Unless you Singhalese breed like ameba like Muslims or forget about your country. :)

    • 0
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      “Tamil population in the Northern province had increased by one point six million”

      Where is the source???

      Jim Stupid is getting figures from thin air. No wonder the readers in CT call him a Joker/clown.

  • 0
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    Mr Sivathasan,
    North Eastern provinces lacks in natural resources and it is important to preserve existing resources and to use these resources efficiently to maximise benefits to the society. North-East should focus on developing outstanding human resources in the technology, health and education sectors. Further we need to invest more on research and development to direct our investments in the productive sectors. I am sure Diaspora Tamils are prepared to provide necessary funding to the development of the war torn North East if there is a guarantee that the funds will be used in a productive manner to enhance the well being of the people. All these depends on the peace, stability and security. Can the Central administration willingly allow the police and land powers without any unwanted interference? It is the million dollar question?

  • 0
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    Ajith’s perceptions are correct and the ideas mentioned should prevail. The best way for a nation to prosper is to give primacy to education. It is best shown by elevating men of learning to positions of eminence. To be Ambassador to USSR Nehru chose Dr. Radhakrishnan who later became VP and subsequently President. For China he selected in 1949, an eminent historian Dr,K M Panikkar.

    Nehru’s reputation attracted men of talent to positions of cerebration and of research. When soon after independence Nehru was unable to command the finances for an Atomic Research Institute, Tata stepped forward to fund it. Nehru appointed Dr. Homi Baba an eminent scientist to head it.

    With one of three Universities being established in Chennai in 1857, Tamil Nadu had developed an ethos of education. The state has produced three Nobel Laureates, all men of science. In Prof. M S Swaminathan, TN produced a world class Agricultural Scientist.

    Karunanidhi selected him for the Rajya Sabha. The Congress at the Centre has slots for a succession of film stars! Chennai Metro being executed now at Rs.145 billion is the best planned and excellently executed project in India that I know of. From preliminary stages to now it is managed by a very competent Board of 8, almost wholly top notch IAS officers at the Centre. Karunanidhi chose as Consultant and Advisor Dr.E. Sridharan, the biggest name in Metro construction and management in India.

    A culture of education imperceptibly influences and inhibits those in politics. Why this lengthy response to a comment? Because the Northern Province, soon to have a man of learning as CM, has to surround himself with men of talent and competence.

    In the position of Governor, should be a person who feels superior in intellect and in education. He or she will know it if one is not, but feel pre eminent if one is. If the former characteristic pervades, with confidence deriving from ignorance, one would set about destructively. It will be like the proverbial (Tamil proverb) centipede, when made king stings all around. If one exudes confidence through learning, one would give full reign to the democratically elected and constitutionally mandated to govern.

    The calibre of the new Governor to be appointed will proclaim the intent of the President and of the government.

  • 0
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    Mr sivathasan,

    Your article is timely. However you seem to believe in blame game and expect that everything should be done by the government and the Provincial Council.

    However Safa had made very valuable contribution and had given a better perspective to your article.

    I endorse every word of Safa.

    Thank you Safa

    Education/Human Resource is priority No 1 for Tamils in the North as before and Excellency in English, not mere proficiency is the goal. But Tamils should not exclusively depend on government jobs.

    Small and Medium enterprises and entrepreneurship are key to development of Northern Province.

    Quite a large number of Commerce and Management graduates from Jaffna University end up as teachers after successfully fasting into death campaigns.

    The investment from Diaspora is crucial for kick starting the development process.

    Could the newly elected Northern Provincial Council address this issue as a priority rather than engaging in futile polemics on police and land powers without any positive outcome? and get an undertaking from the international community ( primarily USA and India) for the safety of Diaspora investments in the North.

    How reliable such assurances in the long run?

    Could it be binding on future Sri Lankan governments who will continue to hide behind sovereignty?

    • 0
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      Thanks Sri. Could you please tell me how much the govt has spent in NP & EP compared to other provinces.

  • 0
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    Anpu,

    All the Provincial Councils get funds from the national budget based on the recommendation of the Finance Commission established in terms of 154R of the 13 amendment.

    But the funds received are insufficient to meet the day to day expenses. But we must admit that there is hardly any discrimination between the Provinces in the allocation of funds.

  • 0
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    Thanks Mr Sivathasan, Safa & Sri. Is there any detail plan on the developments(education, health, housing, etc) needed and how much it is going to cost? In my opinion govt – Rajapkse family is the stumbling block. If the plan does not exist some one or group could start to plan and go to diaspora, foreign embassies in Sri Lanka, …

    Some drs, engineers, business people and many others from abroad already providing funds and their time to people in the north, east & elsewhere directly and via other means.

  • 0
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    Thought readers might be interested on – UNDP/Sri Lanka Human Development Report 2012 http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/national/asiathepacific/srilanka/Sri%20Lanka%20Human%20Development%20Report%202012.pdf

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