The saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is an old Chinese proverb. Appreciating this need to provide an income generating development for the province at the same time prepare the whole country for the 1500 days development plan, the New Coalition Government has included in the 2017 Budget proposals among others as it is an under developed region of the country, a 200% capital allowances for Investors and tax holidays for large-scale investments made in Northern Province the budget proposals has an allocation for “reconciliation work,” but has ignored to provide any special proposals for the rehabilitation or creating employment opportunities for the widows in the provinces.
The 2017 Budget proposals for the whole country, includes for the Northern Province a 100% capital allowance for investment in sugar manufacturing factories and to facilitate access to international markets by improving the infrastructure of SMEs for domestic and international connectivity. To transform the low yielding, low income, few crop dependent, subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture by forming farmer cooperatives to empower our farmers, in negotiating for credit facilities and better prices for produce and services; In transforming the current subsistence to commercial agriculture, promotion of modern agriculture practices that enhance productivity especially through mechanization, use of hi tech irrigation methods such as drip and sprinkler irrigation; to adopt such productivity enhancing technologies and practices in the cultivation of Paddy, Fruits, Vegetables, Pulses, Floriculture, Horticulture, etc. To encourage entrepreneurs to move into the aggro processing industry to add value to Fruits and Vegetables with interest subsidies to farmers, farmer organizations and aggro processing establishments for upgrading the sector through infusion of productivity enhancing technologies and practices. Facilities extended to the paddy sector, to those who adopt productivity enhancing practices and technologies. To medium scale rice millers who will invest in Silo Storage and large capacity Mills in districts with surplus paddy by allocating interest subsidy schemes. Construct warehouses for storage of cereals in Kilinochchi and Mannar.
To encourage the local farmers to cultivate sugarcane, proposed to impose a minimum price for sugarcane with effect from 1st January 2017, based on the ex-factory price formula. To invite, local and foreign investors to invest in Sugar Mills in Kilinochchi district with a minimum plant size of 2,000 Tonnes crushed per day, and provide government land to cultivate sugarcane under the out grower system with the respective factories and provide a 100 percent capital allowance on the investment. To import high milk yielding cattle breeds. To reconstruct big scale irrigation canals and small irrigation tanks. Propose to allocate funds to improve the fishery villages focusing on housing and livelihood development in Jaffna district along lagoon and coastal areas. Aquaculture Industrial zone for to be located in Mannar district. Free Trade Zone in Vavuniya district and an Exhibition convention center in Jaffna. Allocations marked for the revival of the Hand-loom industry and to build 65000 houses in North and East provinces. Solar powered renewable energy units to be setup on all state buildings within two years.
For the successful implementation of the proposals in the 2017 Budget the New government need to show solidarity with the poor to turn the funding to their economic advantage by having fairer trade rules, adapt rapidly to climate change and resource scarcity by limiting our consumption, accept the employment consequences of a more just trade and force stockholders in the economic activity chain to abide by social, environmental and accounting norms.
The Legislators having failed miserably in the past due to party politics and other extra-curricular activities pursued by them over the years; should come forward to collectively serve the country better. They need to bury their political differences to stand as a single body, and then all the problems will disappear overnight to lead the country on a development path. True some of them yet surviving as legislators only because of their ability for stirring up trouble are unable to make any sense of this budget, perhaps because been driven to wilderness and lost forever in thought.
Provincial Councils should play a facilitator role in development. There are much assistance in the budget given to enterprises in agriculture, fisheries does not benefit the less privileged people who do not have jobs or proper livelihoods. Each provincial council must study in depth the proposals related to enterprises and pick those appropriate to the province. The concerned authorities should in each province educate the people to enable them to take full advantage of the assistance given and facilitate other stakeholders to join the chain to enable marketing the produce. Encourage the formation of co-operatives to make larger production units as necessary to get away from subsistence level to large scale export level production.
Public Enterprises that are over staffed and under-performing, have to realize only economic growth in the country will bring sustainable benefit to them and their families than the tidbits financial gains they received in the past from the corrupt legislators.
The people themselves with many old customary regional and religious practices that have on many occasions look strange in the eyes of the state that has been a hindrance to development. The respective communities’ needs to bring these practices acceptable to the rest or alternatively clarify to the authorities as exceptions to the law of the land or practices and make it known to other communities than protest blindly when others force changes on them. This was the case with the recent concern expressed during the protest against conditions imposed by the EU to renew the GSP+ concessions that resulted in some ugly incidents in many parts of the country.
In the nineties as reported in earlier postings in Northern Breeze, the liberalized economy did not usher in the expected results due mainly due to the southern insurrection and the conflict in the North that spread to the East and engulfed the whole country. Later the country never had a chance to recover when the civil war was concluded in 2009, the expectations then were high that the country would regain itself and go forward. But the negative peace years that followed prevented any growth in economy with a reduced growth of young population, which created an aging population the government resorted to indulge in borrowing that made the country dependent on borrowed aid. The situation was made worse with legislators and administrators indulging in activities detrimental to the nation and there was a forced change in government in 2015. Now the new government is forced to introduce dramatic changes to get income generation going again, because the world economy is so sluggish that the new leaders have decided to exploit the strategic location of the country between the two giants in Asia – India and China. It is with this background and having to pump heavily to upkeep a large over sized public service that the leaders are trying to meet the need of the people. Because any sustainable development dictates for a scheme that ensures no one is left behind, it is the duty of all legislators and provincial councilors to first understand this situation set an example and induce their voters to participate in creating a conducive climate to prepare the country for the 1500 days development program, that would take this little island nation to the top again.