The Core Group Meeting of the Business for Peace Initiative (BPI) of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) chaired by Samantha Abeywickrama, Secretary General, FCCISL which was held recently in Colombo devoted its entire session to discuss the intricate issues in expanding the regional economic development and rehabilitation with emphasis to North and East.
The discussions centered on such vitally important issues like the establishment of the Eastern Development Bank, the shortage of building materials in Jaffna, expediting the opening of Puttalam-Mannar road, the price escalations due to security measures in government contracts, to increase personnel for security checking at Medawachchiya railway station and to increase the number of lorries transporting goods to Colombo, according to a FCCISL statement.
The meeting was different in that Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary General, Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) was present at the entire proceedings to assure that the government works hand in hand in with the private sector in achieving regional economic development There were also the representatives of the North and East regional and district Chambers.
Prof. Wijesinha urged the chambers and the business community to extend their support to expedite the economic rehabilitation efforts in the North and East and bring back normalcy to the lives of the people, the statement said.
The Yarlpanam chamber said that due to an acute shortage of building materials in that area, the contractors, who are their members, are unable to complete the contracts within the specified time and thus sustaining losses. Yarlpanam chamber suggested that the government charter a vessel to transport building materials or allocate space in CGES chartered vessel specially to transport building materials so that Chamber members could complete the governmental contracts in time.
The Mannar chamber brought up the issue of not expediting the opening of the Puttalam-Mannar road which is a big hindrance for the business community and urged that the road to be opened for public transport early.
The Anuradhapura, Mannar and Jaffna chambers indicated that there is the misery of building contractors who have tendered for government works funded under IBRD development programme, which has no provision for price escalations. The price escalation is due to present security measures adopted in transporting building materials to Mannar and insufficient space allocated in ships to transport building materials to Jaffna, the statement added.
The Vavuniya Chamber indicated that still the number of security personnel deployed to check passengers of the night mail train at Medawachchiya railway station is inadequate and it takes hours to complete security clearance. As a result some passengers miss the limited transport available to other destinations.
Prof. Wijesinha assured that he would raise the issues and grievances with the appropriate authorities, as these issues are forerunners to normalcy in the region and building peace in the country.