Renewing his pledges to address issues in the North, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said the Government will set up a mechanism to increase investment in the Northern Province to improve living standards in area and support communities still struggling to overcome the impact of the conflict.
The Prime Minister expressed these views during a meeting held with representatives of the Tamil media at Temple Trees.
He acknowledged investors were not keen on investing in the Northern Province and noted the Government will introduce measures to lower the risk for investors and encourage job creation in the region still lagging behind most human development indicators and provincial contribution to the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) even though the conflict ended 11 years ago.
“We are always pushing investors to invest in the North and we have taken measures to lower their risk and increase their returns. When I was in office I introduced several programs to develop infrastructure in the North, which will encourage investors to invest in the Northern Province,” he said.
According to Rajapaksa, drinking water was one of the main issues that needed to be addressed and recalled his former Government had commenced several projects to supply water to the North. “We are planning to build a tank on 22 acres of land to supply sufficient drinking water. That will address one of the biggest issues in the North.”
The Prime Minister noted that he believes in equal development in every part of the country and assured he would not focus on a particular part of the country and will encourage investors to consider doing business in all parts of the country.
One of the key criticisms of the previous administration that existed before 2014 was that many projects, some controversially unprofitable, were established in Rajapaksa’s electorate of Hambantota. These projects included a port, airport, conference hall and a cricket stadium.
Rajapaksa stressed that unemployment was one of the main issues the Government aims to address once the new Parliament is convened. “We want to develop the North to the level of the South and ensure good living conditions for the people in the North who had to suffer for more than 30 years.”
Referring to the previous administration, Rajapaksa charged that the previous administration has failed to address the North’s issues and the politicians who represented the North had not spoken about the ground reality of the area.
“The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) did not speak about the North’s issues. They always talk about topics that are politically beneficial for them. The TNA did not speak about issues such as lack of drinking water, road development to ensure easy access or issues with regard to overall economic development in the North,” he charged.
Speaking about LTTE Eastern Commander turned politician Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman’s controversial statement, Rajapaksa said he did not agree with Amman’s statement and an investigation had commenced into the statement.
Responding to a question about arresting individuals from the North, Prime Minister noted that those connected to the underworld would be arrested. He said that the Police had arrested people from various parts of the country and these were not limited to the North.
“A number of individuals connected to the underworld were arrested from the South as well and there were reports of underworld activities in the North as well and those people were arrested. We want to protect the safety of citizens in the country and these operations will continue,” he said.