The Ministry of Nation Building says Sri Lankans living abroad can send financial aid to the President’s Fund for rehabilitation of the northeast. “People abroad can send financial aid directly to the President’s Fund - to the Uthuru Wasanthaya programme to help the North and to the Negenahira Navodaya programme to help the East,” said the Secretary to the Ministry of Nation Building, W K K Kumarasiri.
The government will not give import-duty concessions for aid sent in the form of goods. “An inflow of goods can hurt local producers and local businesses. So we are not giving tax concessions for aid in the form of goods. People who want to contribute goods can buy most things from Sri Lanka itself. If they buy from Sri Lanka it will help the local economy,” said Mr Kumarasiri. At this point around 275,000 people displaced from the five districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Vavuniya are living in camps in Vavuniya. The government says it is providing all essential requirements for them through the government budget.
“We are giving food, water and electricity and we are even providing facilities like banking, schools and vocational training for these people,” said Mr Kumarasiri.
The demining programme, to resettle people, is targeting 80% land clearance by end of this year.
“The government has set a target of demining 80% of the lands this year. This is a very difficult target because every inch of the land is mined. But some foreign countries are already helping us with this,” said Mr Kumarasiri.
Meanwhile the Navy is rehabilitating the A35 road connecting Jaffna with Mannar and the government is also rehabilitating major reservoirs to provide water for agriculture. “The Navy is rebuilding the A35. This road was not used for about 35 years but it connects Jaffna, Mannar and Puttalam. We are also repairing the Giant Tank (Yoda Wewa) in Mannar, and another reservoir that supplies water for agriculture. By the next paddy season, these reservoirs will be ready for use,” said Mr Kumarasiri.
In the East, around Rs100 billion of public funds have been channelled into rehabilitation.
“Over the last two years we have spent around Rs 100 billion in the East. The money is mainly going to build basic infrastructure like roads and bridges. We are building 23 bridges, five have already been completed and the rest will be ready this year. We are also rehabilitating roads,” said Mr Kumarasiri.
This year the East showed returns on investment by producing 1.2 million tonnes of paddy through the cultivation of 130,000 acres of land, much of which had lain fallow for nearly three decades.