Diplomats told to go beyond cocktails and play crucial role
Sri Lankan embassy in Washington outsources almost all work to PR firms at high costs even Vesak, Pongal, Avurudu festivities
The journey in search of a new foreign policy for Sri Lanka appears to have begun on Friday.
It was only a fortnight ago that President Mahinda Rajapaksa met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the leader designate of the Non Aligned Movement (NAM), on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil and spoke of the need for a “new international order”.
Heads of Sri Lanka’s overseas diplomatic missions and consul generals set out at 6 a.m. from the Central Bank owned and BMICH run Sovereign Hotel in Kotte on a cross country familiarisation visit — the first phase before sitting down in the cooler climes of the Army Cantonment in Diyatalawa for a two day-brain storming session. It began yesterday and will end today. The group first went to Hambantota, one of the main hubs of development activity under the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration.
The one time sleepy fishing town, known for its kalu dodol kiosks, the salterns abounded by Palmyrah trees and a stopover for pilgrims to Kataragama and tourists to Yala, is fast changing face. An international conference centre has already sprung up. A new port, whose first phase was completed at a cost of US$ 361 million, is still waiting for cargo vessels to arrive in large numbers. Only one car carrier has come so far to unload a fleet of vehicles. A new international airport is under construction in the once suburban village of Mattala at a cost of more than US$ 210 million. Many other multimillion dollar projects which will make Hambantota easily the top most new city in Sri Lanka are under way or in the pipeline.
That the men and women who articulate Sri Lanka’s cause overseas first visited Hambantota is significant. They will be told of the need to project the new City and the attractions it offers to those abroad. After visiting the new port and the international airport under construction, they arrived at Diyatalawa on Friday night. Some complained the journey, notwithstanding the newly paved roads, was tiring. A few, now more accustomed to travel in their limousines in their stations, had even slept during the drive. A total of 59 Sri Lankan envoys are back for the two-day ‘residential workshop.’ They include 36 ambassadors, 10 high commissioners, one deputy high commissioner, ten consulate generals and two charge d’ affaires.
The event figured at Wednesday’s weekly cabinet meeting. Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa raised issue on overnight accommodation for the Sri Lankan envoys. He told cabinet that existing facilities, particularly in Jaffna, were inadequate. He had discussed the matter with External Affairs Ministry officials who were dealing with the event. There was a need for at least two envoys to share one room. However, some diplomats preferred to have separate rooms and did not wish to share one with a colleague. Some were not even prepared to pay Rs 3,000 which was the minimal room charge levied by the External Affairs Ministry for accommodation per night, he said.
The remarks were to see Rajapaksa very angry. “Some are only interested in making money. They have no feeling for the country. They only want to educate their children,” he lamented. The best thing, he noted, would be to take the envoys by road to Jaffna and have them return the same day by road. They will then learn a lesson, he noted. According to the programme, the 59 Sri Lankan envoys are scheduled to travel from Trincomalee to Jaffna by road and spend the night there. The next day, after their programme ends, they are expected to fly to Colombo in a Sri Lanka Air Force aircraft. The visit to Jaffna by the envoys has been extended by one more day. They will now return to Colombo on Friday. It is highly unlikely that the programme will be cut short to force them to return by road the same day. In fairness to the men and women who represent Sri Lanka, it was unwise, in the first instance to have even suggested that they share rooms.
It is the responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs, whose officials were responsible for the arrangements, to ensure the self-respect and dignity of the country’s envoys by not making that suggestion. After all, they are persons chosen to represent Sri Lanka in world capitals and not students on a school picnic or on a rugby tour. Even on the question of paying Rs 3,000, there are two aspects. Firstly, it is the government that is hosting the event and hence it is incumbent on it, like providing the air fare, to meet the accommodation costs for an official event. On the other hand, no envoy representing Sri Lanka, worth his or her salt would refuse to pay Rs 3,000 or some US$ 23. This is perhaps less than the amount they would have to pay for a meal in some hotels in the capitals they serve. Of course, if the refusal is based on a matter of principle, they are not wrong. The accommodation for 59 persons is no difficult task if one looks at the VIP facilities available at many of the military establishments in Jaffna. It would only mean finding 15 placements or less in these facilities not to mention hotel rooms that are now available.
Yesterday’s sessions began with a discussion on the theme “Reshaping the Diplomatic Landscape for the 21st century”. This was after External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris spoke on “Expectations under Mahinda Chinthana”. The Mao Zedong like “Thoughts of Mahinda” was a document prepared for the 2005 presidential election and later updated for the presidential polls in 2010. Since those years, the country has faced some of the most unprecedented foreign policy challenges after independence in 1948. After a brief interactive session, President Rajapaksa delivered the keynote address.
President Rajapaksa told the envoys it was time to recognise that the functions of diplomacy were fast changing today. Some highlights of his speech:
“This also leads to significant and far reaching changes to the role of the diplomat. Those who study the new trends in diplomacy will realise that the role of a diplomat is not anymore one of ceremony alone. A diplomat who represents one’s country abroad does not do so as a piece of decoration or ceremonial ornament from the home country.
“The diplomat today has a much more functional role to play. It goes far beyond the entertainment of other diplomats and attendance at official parties and other routine diplomatic events. There is a far more important purpose for a diplomat than the routine of parties and other ceremonies. I am not asking you not to attend parties or host other diplomats or state guests of importance. That also must be done. But your work must go beyond these photo opportunities.
“Since you are appointed to represent your country, it is necessary that you first acquire a deep understanding of your own country, its many assets, its short, medium and long-term requirements, and the problems and challenges it faces. Your representation should be one that is complete in every aspect. You must have a readiness, a willingness and capability to persuade others about the needs of your country, and how your country can contribute to other countries, regions and to the world.”
After his speech, Rajapaksa devoted 15 minutes each with heads of missions and consul generals of four different regions – (1) Middle East and Africa (2) East Asia and the Pacific Region (3) South Asia Region and (4) Europe, Americas and the Commonwealth of Independent States. He was to sound the envoys out on the issues they faced and advise them on priorities.
The post-lunch sessions were on the theme “Meeting Domestic and Global Aspirations: Economic Diplomacy, Sri Lanka – the Emerging Wonder of Asia: Prospects and Challenges.” Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa gave the keynote address. He spelt out the government’s development priorities and how different projects were progressing. He gave an outline of how the envoys should focus on educating those in their capitals on many development programmes.
A panel discussion followed. Taking part in them were Plantation Industries Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, Minor Export Crop Promotion Minister Reginald Cooray and Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratna. Officials included P.B. Jayasundera as Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development, Janaki Kuruppu, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tea Board, Bhaswara Gunaratne, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Janaka Ratnayake, Chairman, Sri Lanka Export Development Board, M.M.C. Ferdinando, Chairman, Board of Investment, P. Dayasiri Fernando, Director General of Commerce, Kapila Chandrasena, Chief Executive Officer of Sri Lankan Airlines, Roshan Devapura, Chief Executive Officer of Information and Communications Technology Agency, Dr. B.M.S. Batagoda, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, S.R. Attygalle, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, G.D.C. Ekanayake, Director General Budget, Ministry of Finance and Planning and N. Godakanda, Director General, Management Services, Ministry of Finance and Planning.
Forty-eight hours after they had taken part in the discussion, Sri Lanka envoys would have discerned from speeches delivered on the UPFA government’s foreign policy perspectives. That is besides obtaining concrete ideas on the economic policies of the government as well as its fiscal policies. Today’s programme appears in a box story on this page. However, the programme showed that some aspects were lacking. One in particular is Indo-Sri Lanka relations. Being Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and one where relations have hit low ebb, again, a specific discourse to the 59 envoys would have not only enlightened them but also helped in a big way towards rapprochement. This is particularly in the light of last week’s visit to Colombo by Shiv Shankar Menon, National Security Advisor to the Indian government. Among other matters, he urged that the government conducts early elections to the Northern Provincial Council (NPC). During talks with President Rajapaksa, he sought a government commitment towards this in the form of an announcement. It came this week from a different quarter. Youth Affairs and Skills Development Minister Dullus Allahapperuma declared that NPC polls would be held “within one year.” Other critical issues facing Sri Lanka in the international fora will come up for discussion today when recommendations of the LLRC and the way forward are taken up for discussion.
Whilst the country’s new foreign policy emerges during the two-day conclave in Diyatalawa, the conduct of Sri Lanka’s diplomacy in the United States has raised some serious questions. This is after three public relations cum lobbying firms publicly acknowledged they received government funds, channelled through the Embassy for work which is normally the task of the Embassy. One website lists Hedges Strategies, a US based lobbying firm: http://foreignlobbying.org/client/Embassy%20of%20Sri%20Lanka/
In 2010, this firm has confirmed that it was paid US$ 10,916.44. The work covered “briefing notes for the ambassador’s meetings, Vesak celebrations, Thai Pongal celebrations, ambassador’s speech for a dinner celebrating the first ever visit to the US by the Sri Lankan national cricket team, ambassador’s remarks for an Asian arts celebrations at the Kennedy Centre and George Mason University, ambassador’s remarks for a discussion at the US Department of State’s Foreign Services Initiative, ambassador’s remarks for Sri Lankan Sinhala-Tamil New Year, World Bank Sri Lanka Food Festival and strengthen Sri Lanka’s diplomatic and trade relationships with the United States.”
It seemed ironic that the Sri Lanka embassy in the United States could not mark Vesak, Thai Pongal, National New Year festivities without the help of a foreign lobbying firm. Even confidentiality is lost when a foreign lobbying firm is told to prepare remarks for a discussion with the Department of State. That is not all. There are other US public relations firms that were also paid for different jobs which are without question responsibilities of a diplomatic mission. Patton Boggs was paid US 420,000 in 2010 for a variety of jobs. (See website given above) Here are a few samplings: Canvassing two US Senators on human rights issues, to discuss bilateral relations with US Senators Patrick Leahy, John Kerry, Richard Lugar, Heath Shuler and Bill Casey. To brief Senators Russel Feingold and Jim Moran on the recommendations of the LLRC.
The firm Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods whose website is
http://foreignlobbying.org/client/Democratic%20Socialist%20Republic%20of%20Sri%20Lanka/ was paid US$ 135,000 for “fees and expenses in relation to agency.” It is not clear why these payments were made in 2010 and whether the firm was told to undertake secret assignments.
The largest payment has been made to Qorvis Communications. The website http://foreignlobbying.org/client/Government%20of%20Sri%20Lanka%20through%20Bell%20Pottinger/ gives the details. In 2010, the firm was paid US$ 253,377.92 for the most number of assignments. Here again, these were tasks which a Sri Lanka diplomatic mission overseas has to undertake on its own. However, the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington found it easy to spend public funds to outsource the conduct of Sri Lanka’s diplomacy whilst all other missions had to do it themselves. Here are selected highlights of the tasks undertaken by Qorvis, a subsidiary of Bell Pottinger group. It was this group’s London office that claimed it wrote President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 2009 speech to the UN General Assembly. Britain’s ‘Independent’ newspaper said that senior executives at the PR firm Bell Pottinger told undercover reporters that it’s speech prepared for Rajapaksa was given preference to one prepared by the Sri Lankan foreign ministry. Now, the firm has confirmed it received payment.
= President Rajapaksa’s Independence Day address published in the Washington Post. (Note: The Washington Post used the story on the strength of its own news value and required no PR agency prodding). Similar claims were also made for Wall Street Journal, Voice of America, Reuters, National Public Radio (NPR), Newsweek, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Fortune, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg, Associated Press, Al Jazeera, ABC news,
= Story on President Rajapaksa’s statement on election for a second term. Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Times (UK), Reuters, Associated Press, Al Jazeera, ABC News, Voice of America, Reuters, Newsweek, New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg
= The New York Times story on Sri Lanka ranking as number one destination. Published in Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Fortune, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg, Associated Press, ABC News, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Times (UK), National Public Radio,
= Arranging and publicising an interview by Foreign Policy Magazine with External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris. Having it published in Politico Magazine. (Note: This was given wide publicity locally through a news release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.)
= Interview with Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal. Arranging it and having it carried on Bloomberg TV. Arranging for meetings for Cabraal with USAID and US Trade Representative.
= Preparing release on government re-affirming ‘dialogue as way forward.’ Sri Lanka reduces number of internally displaced was also incorporated.
= Preparing full text of Speech Delivered to United Nations General Assembly in New York. (Note: The website account does not say for whom this full text of the speech was prepared. However, Rajapaksa addressed the UNGA in September 2009. The Sunday Times learnt payment was claimed by Qorvis in 2010. The firm also claims it obtained publicity for this speech in Wall Street Journal, ABC News, Al Jazeera, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Fortune, Foreign Policy, Financial Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Merger Markets, NBC, New York Times, Newsweek and NPR.
There are serious questions that arise from the claims made by the US lobbying firms and PR agencies. This is besides the accountability of just one diplomatic mission incurring all such expenditure by outsourcing most of its work whilst the other missions are required to do it themselves. One is the accuracy of the claim by Qorvis Communication that it was its efforts that led to publication of breaking stories on Sri Lanka. Were they not based on the judgements of news value by the media outlets concerned? After all, almost every outlet mentioned are ones which observe a high standard of integrity and do not lend their editorial space to please a PR agency.
Is the firm simply including whatever is published or aired to be the result of its own endeavours? Ironic enough, that even arranging for meetings with officials of USAID and US Trade Representative has to be done with the help of a PR firm. This begs the question as to why there is a diplomatic mission functioning at all in Washington DC? It is unable to even arrange media statements for national events in Sri Lanka. The government might as well outsource the mission to these PR agencies.
Just last week, the Sunday Times carried on its front page the story of Steven Hedges, one of those who handles public relations for the Sri Lanka mission in Washington – as an employee of the mission — has teamed up and formed a company called Sapphire Travels (Pvt) Ltd., to promote travel to Sri Lanka. Basically it meant that someone was doing his private business with Sri Lanka while being an embassy staffer. Speculation was swirling within the Sri Lankan community in Washington and the rest of America that Sapphire Travels was even sniffing at doing deals with Boeing, the aircraft company that SriLankan Airlines was looking at in obtaining new aircraft for its ageing fleet. How would such practice affect the new foreign policy of Sri Lanka that is taking shape as a result of two days of deliberations? The payments made according to the websites, a requirement under US law, were only for 2010. It is well known that the practice of outsourcing continues till this day.
These and many more questions come to the fore as Sri Lanka faces unprecedented challenges in the international arena. This is at a time when the government is expanding its diplomatic outreach. Last Wednesday, the cabinet granted approval to a recommendation by Minister G.L. Peiris to establish diplomatic relations with 15 more countries. They are Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Gabon, Cote d’Ivorie, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Togo, Malawi, Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde and Niger.
In a five-page cabinet paper he circulated to ministers, Peiris noted that out of 62 states (only 54 sovereign states), Sri Lanka enjoys diplomatic relations with 35 states in Africa. Other states are partially recognised, unrecognised or Dependent territories. All these States are members of the UN, G 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement. With the exception of Morocco, they are also members of the African Union, Peiris said. Here are highlights of his cabinet memorandum:
“Almost all African countries look after their interests in Sri Lanka through their missions in New Delhi. (Out of 177 Diplomatic Missions in New Delhi, 78 Missions are concurrently accredited to Sri Lanka).
ABSENCE OF SRI LANKA’S DIPLOMATIC PRESENCE IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA
= West and Central African countries account for nearly one third of the geographical area of the continent and its total population.
= Many West and Central African States are rich in mineral resources. For example, Nigeria and Gabon – petroleum, Ghana – gold and diamonds, Sierra Leone – Diamonds.
= With most West African countries now pursuing open economic policies, they have the potential to emerge as important markets for the future. Countries such as Ghana and Senegal have been acclaimed by multilateral agencies for their prudent economic policies.
= From early 1960s up until 1970, Sri Lanka maintained a resident mission in Accra, Ghana. Ghana was the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain independence and Prime Minister (later President) Kwame Nkrumah was the leading figure in the Pan Africanist Movement. Sri Lanka Mission in Accra was opened mainly for political purposes as a listening post and to demonstrate Sri Lanka’s commitment to the Afro-Asian solidarity.
Emergence of other independent States and the overthrow of Nkrumah Government in a military coup contributed to the decline in importance of Accra as a political centre in Africa and the Third World. Hence it was decided in 1970 to close the Accra mission and open one in Nairobi mainly to lobby for an international tea agreement and to monitor developments in the growing east African tea industry. Since then, Sri Lanka has not had any diplomatic representation or accreditation in West Africa.
= For a brief period in the first half of 1960s, Ghana had a resident Mission in Colombo, which was closed in July 1966. There has never been any Sri Lankan diplomatic representation/accreditation in/to Central Africa.
IMPORTANCE OF AFRICA IN THE INTERNATIONAL FORA
= Of the 54 members of the Commonwealth, 19 are from the African continent. One third of the 18 countries that currently constitute the membership of the G15 are from the African Continent. Those countries are: Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe. Almost half (25) of the 56-member strong Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) is from Africa. Approximately one third (7) of the 19-member Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC) is from Africa. Four African countries, namely, Angola, Algeria, Libya and Nigeria are members of the 12 member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
= The largest sub regional organisation in the Continent is the Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (COMESA) which has a membership of 20 countries followed by the Economic Community of West Saharan States (ECOWAS) with 15 members and South African Development Community (SADC) with 14 members.
AFRICA’S SUPPORT FOR SRI LANKA IN THE INTERNATIONAL FORA
= Out of the 29 countries that supported Sri Lanka at the special session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva held on 27th May 2009, 11 were African countries. They were Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia. At this council other two African nations, Gabon and Mauritius abstained.
= We need to appreciate the support extended by African countries at the recently concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 23rd-30th October 2011, Perth, Australia. Our sustained efforts to sensitize and lobby the member nations of the Commonwealth with regard to the moves afoot on Sri Lanka prior to Canada’s intervention resulted in 15 countries endorsing the position articulated by Sri Lanka. Fifteen countries intervening, one after another to support Sri Lanka’s position was an immensely strengthening and humbling experience. Out of those 15 countries supportive of Sri Lanka, 08 countries, namely Swaziland, Zambia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Rwanda were African nations.
= At the recently held Human Rights Council in Geneva, on 22nd March 2012, the resolution placed by the United States of America against Sri Lanka, on promoting reconciliation and accountability, Congo, Mauritania and Uganda voted against the US resolution and Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Senegal were abstaining.
= Therefore it is a timely requirement for us to rethink our international relations in the contemporary world. We recently established formal diplomatic relations with the Governments of Rwanda, Mali and the Republic of Congo and the Cabinet granted approval for the establishment of relations with South Sudan.
The government cannot be blamed for placing heavy emphasis on economic matters during the two days sessions for Sri Lankan envoys. Three years after the military defeat of an armed secessionist movement, development activity including tourism promotion has become priorities. However, it would be imperative for the UPFA leaders, in the absence of a vibrant External Affairs Ministry, to gear Sri Lanka’s envoys abroad to meet the serious political challenges that could undermine all development activity. They have at least to bear in mind – the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in late October-early November. Thereafter, the Council will, in March next year, review the progress made on the US-backed resolution on Sri Lanka. That should be a matter of great importance to all 59 envoys gathered in Diyatalawa today.
Focus on reconciliation in tour of North-East
The third session of the residential workshop for Sri Lankan envoys overseas begins this morning at the Army Cantonment in Diyatalawa with an address by Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The theme will be on “Project Sri Lanka – Essence of Reconciliation.”
It will be followed by security briefings by retired Major General Kapila Hendavithana, Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) and Lt. Col. T. Suresh Sallay, Co-ordinator, Foreign Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence. Maj. Gen. Hendavithana was a former Director of Military Intelligence. Lt. Col. Sallay, who served in Military Intelligence, was also a onetime Defence Attache at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Paris. Here are other highlights of today’s programme and what the envoys will do when the events end:
Address by Arun Thambimuttu, Presidential Co-ordinator/SLFP Organiser for Batticaloa district on the subject “Friendly and unfriendly approach of Sri Lankan diaspora.” An interactive session will follow.
External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris will speak on the subject Recommendations of the LLRC report and the Way Forward.” Contributors/panelists to this session will be Nimal Siripala de Silva, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resource Management, Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Justice, Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, Mohan Peiris, Legal Advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers.
S.B. Divaratne, Secretary, Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security – Northern Province will speak on “Resettlement and Rehabilitation.”
Session four in the afternoon will begin with a discussion on the theme “Reorganising Sri Lanka Missions/Posts to address the present challenges.”
The Co-chairs to the event will be Ministers G.L. Peiris and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. Listed as panellists for the discussion are Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President, Sumith Abeysinghe, Secretary to the Cabinet of Ministers and Karunatilleke Amunugama, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs. Those listed as contributors are B.M.S. Batagoda, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, S.R. Attygalle, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, G.D.C. Ekanayake, Director General, Budget, Ministry of Finance and Planning and N. Godakanda, Director General Management Services, Ministry of Finance and Planning.
The sessions will conclude with group meetings by Ministers Tissa Vitarana, D.E.W. Gunasekera, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Douglas Devananda, Patalee Champika Ranawaka, Rauff Hakeem, A.L.M. Athaulla, Dilan Perera, Dullus Allahapperuma and Wimal Weerawansa.
Tomorrow (Monday) the envoys will travel by road to Batticaloa with stops en route. Such stops will include Ravana Ella Waterfalls and Uma Oya project site,
Divineguma activities at Neluwayaya village, Lahugala Elephant Sanctuary, Oluvil Port Construction Project site, Kalladi Bridge/Water supply project and stay the night in Pasikudah.
On Tuesday they will leave for Trincomalee with stopovers in Vakarai to visit Thattumunai Focal Village and to Trincomalee crossing eight bridges including the Kinniya bridge, the longest in Sri Lanka. In Trincomalee they will visit the Hot Wells, the natural harbour, Koneswaram Temple, Alles Garden and spend the night at the Nilaveli Beach resort.
The journey by road to Trincomalee will include visits to four newly opened bridges, Irrakkandy, Salapai Aru. Pudavaikattu and Yan Oya. They will then visit Menik Farm IDP camp and the Divineguma Training Centre at Kanagarayankulam. Thereafter, they will visit an electricity project, schools, a market project, international stadium project, seed production centre, the A-9 road project and the railway project. After lunch by the Kalmadu tank side, they will visit the Karanthai Indian built housing scheme and see the damage to coconut and Palmyrah trees at Muhamalai.
In Jaffna, the envoys will visit Thondamannaru, the Nallur Temple, Library,Fort, Teaching Hospital Project, Thondamannaru bridge and also see the Valvettiturai Water Supply Project as well as the Point Pedro market. The programme in Jaffna also includes a visit to Janashakthi Model village in Kopay.