Budget fails to recognize needs of NorthEast -Sampanthan

[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 November 2002, 21:15 GMT]
"The budget does not provide any relief to the devastated northeast. To treat the northeast in the same way as the rest of the country would tantamount to a refusal to acknowledge the devastation and deprivation suffered by the people of northeast," said Mr.R.Sampanthan, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) group leader participating in the budget debate Thursday.

Excerpts of Mr.Sampanthan speech are given below: -

"As a result of the environment of peace now prevalent in the northeast, the rural economy in that region would certainly be greatly activitated in the months and years to come.

"We appeal to the armed forces to co-operate in the generation of rural economic activity in the northeast. Existing High Security Zones (HSZ) and the new HSZs that are being created occupy nearly 30% of the most fertile land mass in Jaffna Peninsula. In addition to severely impacting the revival of rural economy, denying access to their own land violates the basic fundamental rights of the Tamils, and we earnestly urge the government to relax the strict security measures and enable the Tamil people to engage freely in farming activity.

"I need to say a few words about employment opportunities in the public sector. There has been a long history of discrimination against the Tamil youth in the field of employment. Tamil youths have not received even five percent of the employment in the public sector. The staff quota allocated to government departments in the northeast are routinely to supplement staff in government departments in areas outside the northeast. Government departments in Northeast are grossly understaffed and many unfilled positions remain.

"The government has now frozen recruitment for the public sector. The government has failed to take cognizance of the injustice that has been meted out to Tamil youths by discriminatory policies of the past. This injustice needs to be remedied immediately and Tamil youth should be given employment in the public sector at least in proportion to their ethnic percentage.

"We are aware that various initial steps are being taken to obtain foreign resources to rebuild the northeast. But the government has failed to provide facilities in the field of housing, agriculture, fisheries and industry, which could have helped, build the infrastructure and promote employment and occupational opportunities in the northeast.

"The State must bear a substantial measure of responsibility for the presently devastated situation in the northeast and the extreme deprivation to which the Tamil people in these areas have been subjected. For instance the private sector could have been given special facilities in the northeast to enable the speedy development of the northeast. Such a step would have been a demonstration of the sincerity of the government's commitment for the speedy development of the northeast and could have contributed immensely to the integration of the country.

"I would like to emphasize that an honourable peace through an fair and just political solution, and the revival of the economy of the country are inter-linked.

"A duty is cast on every one who desires the revival of the economy to ensure that this honourable peace is achieved. We have the best opportunity in a long time. We should not miss it.

"The Peoples Alliance (PA) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) should extend their co-operation to the present peace process. This is the last chance to attain permanent peace through negotiations."

 

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