The ambitious development initiatives of the Government over the last nine years have started yielding results and this year’s budget has proven it by sharing this dividend with the people by way of variety of reliefs to all the segments of the society.
The economic indicators such as the economic growth of 8 percentage, the anticipated per capita income of US $ 4,000 for 2015, which is 4 times higher than what it was 10 years ago, keeping the budget deficit at 5 % of GDP and trying to further reduce it in the coming years and reduction in debt/GDP ratio, presented by His Excellency the President during the cause of His budget speech is testimony to the success of the Mahinda Chintanaya vision.
Drastic decline in the number of people living below the National Poverty Line from 15.7 percent to 8.7 within the last five years, rural poverty from 15.7 to 7.6, poverty in plantation sector from 32 to 10.9 percent, people with less than US $ 2 per day income from 28.3 percent to 18.9 percent, reduction in the maternal mortality rate are all indicators that the Mahinda Chintanaya vision is yielding better results.
Hon. Speaker, in spite of the fact that the economy has proven its resilience despite the challenges and obstacles faced in the aftermath of ending the prolonged conflict and in the midst of external vulnerabilities, my parliamentary colleagues from TNA have condemned the budget stating that it has not provided any relief to the people affected by war.
By glancing through the budget estimates for the Provincial Councils anybody can find out that the Northern Province got the highest allocation of Capital budget as compared to all other Provinces. It reiterates Government’s policy of balanced regional development and development of hitherto underserved areas, considering that this province was neglected in every aspect of development in the past, special attention is always given to the Northern and Eastern provinces. I don’t understand why this TNA MPs have made such a false statement.
Sir, recently we had the Special District Coordinating Committee meetings to review the progress made and to discuss future plans for all the districts in the North under the chairmanship of His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The progress reports presented by the District Secretaries of all the five districts of the Northern Province revealed incredible sums of money being spent for development of these districts since 2009. Unfortunately, TNA parliamentarians did not participate in the meeting. Have they participated, they would have come to know the amount of money the Government has spent for the development of these districts, since the end of conflict. The facts revealed at this meeting were that the Government has spent staggering sum of Rs. 290,271 million rupees from 2009 till September 2014 for the Northern Province. The brake down being Jaffna District Rs. 89,031 million, Kilinochchi District Rs. 60,529 million, Mullaitivu District Rs. 38,407 million, Mannar District Rs. 62,804 million and Vavuniya District Rs. 39,500 million.
These progress reports further reveal that the mega development drive carried out in these districts has resulted in yielding enhanced productivity and contributes towards the GDP of the country.
The Northern and Eastern Provinces which missed the economic impetus to keep in par with the economic development of the rest of the provinces for over three decades, have now almost regained the infrastructural frame work needed for reactivating the economic activities. The Economic Development Ministry under the able and charismatic leadership of Hon. Basil Rohana Rajapaksa guided by the Mahinda Chinthanaya vision has completed these mammoth tasks within short span of time.
TNA don’t want to see these developments. They don’t want the people to benefit out of these development initiatives. When Northern Chief Minister Mr. Wigneswarn was appointed as Co-chair of the Jaffna & Killinochchi Districts Development Committee in November last year, he and other TNA leaders made public pronouncement that they would not accept Co-chairmanship and did not participate in the DCC meeting that took place in November 2013.
But when they saw that in spite of their boycott, the DCC was going ahead with its development oriented initiatives and fearing that we will get the credit for it, they came to the DCC during this year sneakily. They had the power but they not only refused to use it but also used against the interest of the people.
Sir, the long awaited wish of the Jaffna people materialized when, on the 13th of October the train service was extended up to Jaffna with the visit of His Excellency the President. TNA leadership as usual requested the people of Jaffna to boycott the event. But the overwhelming crowd that gathered to greet His Excellency in all the railway stations from Palai to Jaffna shows that the people of Jaffna have rejected their request. The TNA leadership also maintained that the people of Jaffna do not need the train service; the Chief Minister openly announced that the government was keen to introduce the service not for the benefit of the people but to transport the security personal. They also said the same for A9 road; but they are people who are using the A9 road with their newly acquired vehicles through the Provincial Council.
The TNA has made several statements condemning the issue of land permits to more than 20,000 people by His Excellency in Kilinochchi on the 12th of October. They have even threatened to take legal action against it. Do they not want our landless people get lands? They cry aloud about land ownership, but when the ownership is given to our landless people they not only work against it but also turn a blind eye. This is their poli-tricks and crocodile tears.
In line with the Government policy of providing drinking water to all, Government secured ADB loan of US $ 164.4 Mn, i.e. about Rs. 21,000 Mn in 2011 for providing drinking water to the people of Palai, Poneryn of Kilinochchi District and Jaffna from Iranaimadu tank. The project also has component packages to renovate and raise the level of Iranaimadu tank, which is in a depleting condition as the bund was not maintained for nearly 92 years and sewerage system for Jaffna Municipality area. The Government even signed commitment agreement with the ADB for the said loan. The project should have commenced in February this year. But there is a clause in the ‘Project Administration Manual’ that a reconfirmation and new MoU has to be signed before the commencement of the project by the Irrigation Department for excess water extraction from Iranaimadu Tank. Since the Irrigation Department is under the provincial administration and it refused to sign the MoU on the instruction of the Provincial Minister, the project has now come to a halt. This very clearly indicates the power given to the Provincial Administration and how they are used against the interest of the people in the districts of Jaffna and Kilinochchi.
This is how the Northern Provincial administration is run today. Sir, the Government has allocated Rs. 5,831 million for capital expenditure for the Northern Province for the year 2014, which is the highest out of all the provinces. But the financial progress report up to September 30th 2014 reveals that they have spent only 25.17 percent of this allocation. This is how they are running the provincial administration. They are like the ‘dog in the manger’. They won’t do anything good for the people and they will not allow the others also to do.
I finally wish to reiterate the request made to the TNA by His Excellency the President during the cause of His budget speech to move away from ideological barriers and to work with the Government towards finding a realistic political proposal that will make Provincial Councils more meaningful to promote development for the benefit of all our people.