Tamils denied employment generation projects

[TamilNet, Friday, 14 November 1997, 23:59 GMT]
The massive unemployment problem among the Tamil youth in the war ravaged North-eastern province of Sri Lanka was brought into focus again today as applications piled up for seventy five vacancies for minor staff in the schools of the Batticaloa district.

The Northeastern provincial council's ministry of education has received eight thousand applications for the seventy five jobs.

Ministry sources said that it will take five months to process the applications and conduct interviews with all the applicants.

Interviews will begin on Monday Nov. 17.

Decades of discrimination in education and employment has created a massive unemployment problem in the northeast.

Claims by the Sri Lankan government that unemployment is on the decline are true only in the case of the Sinhala areas.

All employment generation projects have been located exclusively in the Sinhala majority districts of the island since the seventies.

The major industrial projects which were established in the fifties and sixties in the northeast have either been closed down completely for security reasons or been shifted elsewhere.

In several cases Sinhala labour colonies were established by the state to keep employment in major industrial sites exclusively in the hands of the majority community, thereby denying jobs to the local Tamil and Muslim populations in the northeastern province.

The SL government created Sinhala settlements near and around the Prima Flour Mills and the Kanthalai and Hinguruna sugar factories in Trincomalee to saturate the labour force at all levels in these concerns.

A survey by Sri Lanka's central bank shows that of the 1578 projects by the Ministry of Industrial Development none are located in the Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Mullaithivu districts.

Only one industrial concern was established in Trincomalee by the Board Of Investment, the main authority under the SLG which oversees foreign investment.

Employment here is dominated by Sinhalese. A garment manufacturing concern was opened in Batticaloa under President Premadasa's Two Hundred Garment Factory Programme.

This was closed down twice for want of quotas and once more when the owner was taken into custody for allegedly supplying uniform material to the LTTE.

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