The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has said that his administration would not like industries coming up in the province to use locally available resources and would want them to deploy resources procured or purchased from outside the province.
“In working out our industries we would prefer not to use our natural resources internally available, if alternatives from elsewhere could be procured or purchased,” he said speaking at a meeting on the economic development of Jaffna District in Jaffna on Friday.
Wignswaran said this in the presence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. .
Presumably , the Chief Minister said this with a view to preserving the Northern province’s natural resources .But one wonders whether other provinces would allow their resources to be depleted to preserve the resources of the Northern Province!
High Priority For Tamil Diaspora
Wigneswaran further said that in selecting investors for the Northern Province, the Tamil Diaspora should be given high priority, next only to people in the province itself. Others should be given only third preference, he added.
“In Private-Public partnership, preference must be given to our local investors first, our own Diaspora investors next, and if unavailable, to others from outside the Northern Province. We cannot be used as a vassal Province for the benefit of wayward investors.” Wigneswaran said.
As regards the workforce in the industries in the Northern Province, he said: “We would like to give priority to our regional work force, then to our provincial work force, and thereafter to others.”
“Our economic development must ensure that we the people of this province are at the helm of our own affairs. We are proud of our heritage; we like to live a life of our own rather than be dictated to by outsiders,” he asserted.
However the Chief Minister assured that the “Tamils are most certainly willing to join in earnest co –operation in the economic field, like in co-operative federalism in the field of politics.”
Wigneswaran pleaded for the consultation of the elected representatives of the province in drawing up economic development plans.
“We do not approve of one stop offices in Colombo dictating the course of internal investments and economic regeneration in our areas,” he said.
The Chief Minister called for the filling of vacancies in the Provincial Administration and Central government in the province. He pointed out that 1171 posts in the provincial administration and 329 in the Central government departments in the Northern province are vacant.
He sought the opening of officer levels posts in the Sri Lankan police force to the Tamils.
“There are hardly any Tamils in the higher echelons of the police force leave alone the rank and file,” he said and pointed out that the Provincial Councils’ list in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution says that “there shall be a Provincial Police Division for each Province consisting of Provincial ASPs, CIs, IPs, SIs, Seargents and Constables recruited in the Province.”
Wigneswaran complained that the local authorities in the Northern Province are not getting funds due to them from the Central government.
“The revenue of Rs.1200 million of the local authorities of the Northern Province collected from stamp duty and court fines during the period from 2011 to 2013 was remitted to the Treasury. But only Rs. 500 million has been released this year and the balance fund of Rs. 700 million is yet to be released,” he said