Colombo, November 12 (The New Indian Express): The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which accounts for 16 of the 18 Tamil Members of Parliament from the Tamil-speaking North and East of Sri Lanka, says that Sri Lanka’s annual budget, which was presented to parliament on November 10, has failed to address the pressing issue of ethnic reconciliation.
TNA MP and spokesman M.A.Sumanthiran said on Saturday, that the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to have consulted the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), but he did not consult the TNA which is the representative of the North and East in parliament.
The absence of consultation with the TNA is reflected in the lack of concern for issues of reconciliation in the budget, Sumanthiran said.
One of the pressing issues in the war-devastated Northern Province is livelihood. But there is nothing in the budget for the provision of livelihood for the people, who are finding it difficult to make both ends meet because of the economic disruption brought about the war. The budget has no schemes for livelihood support, he pointed out.
There is encouragement for the establishment of large scale business projects but these are not employment providers as such. Among the grandiose projects is a modern Vertical Building in Jaffna with facilities for business establishments, residences and entertainment to be built at a cost of LKR 1 billion. (US$ 6.7 million). But this is not going to answer the needs of the local people, whose needs are very different, Sumanthiran said. The saving grace is the plan to build 50,000 houses.
Sumanthiran regretted that the reconciliation issue has not been part of the policy framework for the budget presented by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government.
In this respect, the present regime seems to be no different from the Mahinda Rajapaksa government which launched the Vaddakkin Vasantham ( Blooming of the North) project in the Northern Province without taking into account the pressing needs of a people who had just the emerged from a 30 year war. Roads and buildings were built, but virtually nothing was done to meet the livelihood and housing needs of the common man, barring the India-funded and executed 50,000 houses project for the war affected families.
(The featured image at the top is that of Tamil National alliance MP, M.A.Sumanthiran)