Feature Article

US development aims integrating East with Sinhala provinces

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 November 2008, 19:04 GMT]
Based on their firm conviction that development disparity is the root cause of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the United States Embassy in Sri Lanka is busy in recent times in promoting a number ‘development’ programmes, especially in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Launching a new programme, Connecting Regional Economies (CORE) two months ago, the US aim ‘at the provincial and community level’ is to ‘focus on improving supply chain and market linkages between producers, processors, and the end markets in five districts of the Eastern, North Central and Uva Provinces’, read a press release from the US embassy in Colombo.

“As part of the US Government's integrated strategy to address the root causes of conflict in Sri Lanka, the new program, Connecting Regional Economies (CORE), is designed to increase social and economic security in Eastern Sri Lanka. By addressing the disparity in economic development between Eastern Sri Lanka and more prosperous Western Province, CORE aims to establish conditions whereby sustained economic development can be launched”, the press release of the US embassy, dated 17th September said.

The US programme is implemented by The Services Group a US based company, in coordination with five ministries of the Sri Lanka government.

Ka'luvaagnckikkudi Vocational Training Center
US Ambassador Robert Blake poses with students at Ka'luvaagnckikkudi Vocational Training Center in . [Photo: U.S. Embassy in Colombo, September 24, 2008]
Some of the programmes undertaken at the moment are, the introduction of new financial products in the conflict zones through Lanka Orix Leasing Company (LOLC), introduction of certain crops like Gherkins (a kind of small cucumber) and peppers to supply McDonalds, Burger King etc., four vocational schools, potable water supply at Poththuvil and the reconstruction of the Municipal Public Market in Batticaloa.

The East has to be careful in receiving the kind of 'development’, without its own perusal, cautioned Mr. Ariyanethiran, Tamil National Alliance MP for Batticaloa.

“At the surface they may look attractive, because people of the East, through the military might of the Sri Lanka government, are now reduced to accept whatever that comes as relief. They have no means of planning for themselves based on their own perspectives or no infrastructure to convert the ‘development’ to their own integrity, without becoming slaves for the hierarchy of the larger systems, operating from Colombo and Washington. This is exactly the ground reality the ‘developers’ wanted in the East”, he said.

“To put it simply, it is first to help Colombo to make majoritarian inroads into the East, to integrate it economically and socially with the Colombo system, and then to integrate the entire island with the international system”.

Ariyanethran, TNA MP for Batticaloa
“The American planners and all those who harbour such development ideas to the East are either ignorant of the dynamics of Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka or think that the Tamils and Muslims of the East can be easily isolated and subjugated”.

“One has to take a particular note of them ignoring or sabotaging the geographical, developmental and socio-economic integration of the Tamils of the North and East”.

“Another striking feature of such development initiatives is that they take place through direct collaboration between the American agency and the ministries of Sri Lanka, sidelining the Provincial Council created under the 13th Amendment. This is a classic example to understand what they really think of the PC, even though they advocate it a solution to the ethnic crisis”.

“Whatever the face value of the development programmes, the agenda behind them as we understand from the US embassy literature will only add to the ethnic conflict in the island. Meaningful development of the East can take place only after a substantial political solution to the Tamil national question”, observed the Tamil National Alliance MP.



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