NPC urges Colombo to adopt a socially legitimate public policy

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 19 January 2005, 11:32 GMT]
Pointing out that the Sri Lanka Government's attempts to "isolate LTTE-held areas and indeed the Tamil people from the international system," is straining the relationship between the parties and the "centralization of governmental decision making" is another unfortunate feature of post-tsunami situation, the National Peace Council (NPC) in a media release issued on wednesday advocated the need for a "sound public policy of social and economic recovery that is participatory, inclusive and socially legitimate."

Full text of the press release follows:

For the past year the peace process has been stalled on the inability of the government and LTTE to agree to negotiate for an interim self governing authority (ISGA) as neither side has been prepared to demonstrate the required flexibility on the issues. In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster it is clearly necessary to seek an alternative way to break the deadlock to serve the interests of the affected people. The National Peace Council believes there is an urgent need to evolve a joint mechanism for the rebuilding of infrastructure and livelihoods destroyed by the tsunami in the coastal areas through a consultative process. This mechanism could be at multiple levels and would need to be between the government, opposition, LTTE and Muslim representatives, and also the international donors, in order to ensure that the funds are utilised in a fair and equitable manner on a "needs based approach".

Unfortunately, the post-tsunami period has also seen the relationship between the government and LTTE get strained in a way that makes a return to the negotiating table in a spirit of mutual goodwill more difficult. One such case was the refusal of the government to permit the UN Secretary General to visit Mullaitivu district. This is seen by many as an attempt by the government to isolate LTTE-held areas and indeed the Tamil people from the international system. Unless the government and LTTE are able to obtain a working relationship with each other the prospects for rebuilding the north east will be bleak. If Sri Lanka is to move forward as whole, the relationship between the government and LTTE has to improve. Or else there will be lop sided development with the north east and its people left to languish.

The centralisation of governmental decision making to the exclusion of other political forces and also of institutions of devolved government is another unfortunate feature of the present post-tsunami situation. Already it appears that centralised plans are being drawn up in which there is little or no consultation with the affected people. This can be seen in the exclusion of local government institutions from even the relief phase of the tsunami assistance. The National Peace Council believes that the involvement of local authorities is imperative as existing information indicates weak and inadequate deliveries at the ground level. We also propose joint monitoring by representative committees of all parties including the affected and local civil society.

Today Sri Lanka stands at the threshold of receiving an unprecedented amount of international assistance that can really make a big difference to the country's overall development profile. It would be tragic if this opportunity is not taken to develop the country in a just and equitable manner. Ignoring existing capacities, needs and aspirations for recovery in the affected districts, be it the north east or south, would undoubtedly hamper the recovery process. What is needed now is a sound public policy of social and economic recovery that is participatory, inclusive and socially legitimate that could be anchored in a new political culture of consensual politics. Whilst focusing on recovery from the tsunami there is a need to focus on permanently recovering from the civil war as well.

 

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