Northeast development under military control

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 January 1999, 15:13 GMT]
The Sri Lankan government is expected to resolve soon that all development work in the North-eastern province in 1999 can be undertaken only with the permission of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA).

This decision will be taken at a crucial meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 27 to which the Sri Lankan President has invited the Governor of the North-eastern province, Maj.Gen.(ret) Asoka Jayawardana, the chief secretary of the North-eastern Provincial Council (NEPC), G.Krishnamurthy, and the secretaries to the five ministries of the NEPC. The meeting will be held at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.

NEPC sources said today that the President and the Governor, Maj.Gen.(ret) Asoka Jayawardana have shown a keen interest in the question of permitting development work in the "uncleared areas" (SLA term for regions controlled by the Liberation Tigers).

The matter would be taken up for serious discussion on Wednesday they said.

The Sri Lankan government has already banned all development work in the "uncleared areas" of the Batticaloa district.

NEPC officials said that a decision to extend this ban to all the other districts of the province will be taken on Wednesday.

The move is aimed at completely precluding foreign aid to Tamil areas in general and to those under the control of the Liberation Tigers in particular, said analysts in Colombo.

The aid package granted for development work in the North east by the World Bank recently could also be scuttled by this decision, said one council official.

The ban will further destroy the crumbling infrastructure and economy of the Tamil areas in the northern and eastern parts of the island, according to some concerned NEPC officials.

They said that the governor will propose to the President or her representative who may attend the meeting on her behalf on Wednesday that the administrative system of the provincial ministries should be restructured to suit the size and needs of the province.

Eight secretaries to the ministries of the NEPC should be appointed, according to the governor's proposal, because the five stipulated by law is inadequate to administer the council of this province which was constituted by the merger of two large provinces.

A secretary to a provincial ministry has to now handle 6-7 departments. The increase in the number of secretaries will help ease the administrative problems the NEPC faces now, the sources said.


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