The Northern Province would be developed in such a manner that it could make a significant contribution to the country’s national economy- The President says in Jaffna
President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the economy could not be built through the reconciliation alone and the economic development rate of the country depends on the attitude and commitment of the people.
The President said that the Northern Province had made extensive contributions to the national economy prior to the War and assured that the development programs required to restore the strong economy of the North would be implemented.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks during a discussion held in Jaffna yesterday (10) on the issues in the Northern Province. A group of political representatives and scholars from the Northern Province participated in the discussion.
The views expressed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe during the discussion are as follows:
There have been dialogues on sharing maximum power under the Reconciliation Program and on the political affairs in the North of the country. I brought my focus on the matter during my speech in the Parliament on February 08. So I am not going to focus on the same today.
I believe that a massive development in the Northern Province should take place in parallel to the economic development program in the country. The economy of Jaffna completely collapsed due to the war. It has not yet reached the anticipated level of economic development.
Therefore, we hope to work under a 10-year plan to bring the country to that stage.
Therefore we have to get not only foreign aid but also aid from the diaspora to realize this end.
Therefore, I make this an opportunity to get your views on that development plan and also to get your views for the development drive. So I would like to invite you to share your ideas with us for creating a new economic development in this province.
In the Fertilizer Provision Program, our attention was drawn to provide fertilizer only for paddy cultivation. We would take steps to provide fertilizers for other crops as well in the future.
Most of the people who joined the discussion spoke on those problems that required to be solved. There are many issues that could be solved within a short period of time. Although it is difficult to provide solutions for them this year due to the existing critical situation in the country, we would focus on them in the future.
We have to work a plan to recover from today’s economic collapse. We have to pay back the debts that we have already taken. In addition we have got to get foreign loans this year for the country’s future. They should also be paid back. In addition it is required to maintain a foreign exchange surplus.
Therefore, our expectation is to develop an export-oriented economy as well as a competitive economy. To achieve this target, we have selected some major provinces out of which the Northern Province is one. If that program would be implemented properly, the economy of the Northern Province would change commendably turning to be a major economy.
Accordingly, our first effort is to see the agriculture in the North-Central and Eastern provinces being modernized. Our ambition is to get 06, 07 metric tons of harvest per acre from the paddy cultivation from Kilinochchi to Kumana area and in the area from there to Udawalawe. Thus, when paddy production increases in those areas, land in other areas will be available for other investments.
In addition, a program is required to make the fishing industry commercially viable. Not only the traditional fishing industry, but shrimp farming should also be prioritized.
We are negotiating with the Indian government to solve the bottom trawling problem at hand. Additionally special attention has been drawn to provide a solution to the water issue in the Northern Province.
It has been proposed to commence a water project combining Malwatu Oya and Yodha Ala, and also another to conserve water in other rivers and streams. Additionally, I would like to remind you that we have a program in the agenda to provide clean water to Elephant Pass Lagoon and to develop Poonareen Lake.
There is also a program to boost tourism industry in this province. Another to install solar panels in the tanks and we have explored the possibility of producing green hydrogen. We can generate a surplus of 30-40 megawatts from the beach extending from Puttalam to Mullaitivu and in the beaches in Hambantota. The investigations on them are in progress. The future lies with green ammonia and green hydrogen production. Most of it would come from the Northern Province and that can turn the economy of the North completely transforming to be a strong economy.
In addition, we want to promote tourism between Mannar and Trincomalee. Small shipping lines services will also commence to these islands. Tourists visit traditional Hindu temples.
It is also necessary to mention that measures are being taken to establish industrial zones in Mankulam and Paranthan. Moreover, we also have plans to establish Non-government University in this region.
By bringing technical institutions to this area, it is possible to turn this into a technical area where knowledge is available. And our plan is to make Punerin a new city. My expectation with all these activities is to speed up the development of the North.
Also, we should implement Trincomalee port development activities with the help of India, which will strongly affect the development of the Northern Province. Before the war, the Northern Province made a wide contribution to the country’s economy. As a government, we hope to restore that situation and raise it rapidly.
Reconciliation alone will not solve these problems. Poverty in the country should be eradicated and a better future should be built for the youth. Otherwise there will be no permanent solution to this problem.
Also, we must eliminate the drug issue from this province. I would like everyone to discuss the implementation of those programs at the grassroots level together.
A government alone cannot accomplish this. We will provide support and accordingly I request you all to work together with dedication. Those people should undertake the development of Ruhuna with the support of the government. Each province should take responsibility for the development of their own province. Let’s hold a competition between 09 provinces a game which would develop the country finally.
The views of Minister of Fisheries Douglas Devananda are as follows:
On behalf of the people of the Northern Province, I welcome President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has come to investigate the problems of the people of the Northern Province, with great respect. When the country was facing economic and political problems in the past, he stepped forward to save the country from it. Therefore, as the people of the Northern Province, it is our responsibility to support the President.
Northern Province Governor Jeevan Thyagarajah, Presidential Secretary Saman Ekanayake, Northern Province Presidential Coordinating Secretary M Ilangovan, former Member of Parliament Vijayakala Maheswaran and other officials were present at this occasion.
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