The budget ignored North and East
Posted on November 17th, 2022

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

Wigneswaran says that the Budget did not mention any development in the East and specifically north

Only one proposal regarding blue economy-related industry was to consider development over three zones in the Western southern and eastern regions where nautical tourism is to be developed with water skiing etc

A northern peninsula with a waterfront with shallow waters and few islands is ideal for such development and a northwestern area where Kalpitiya is not even mentioned

Trinco and Oluvil are not even considered

So many projects can be implemented in industries related to Ocean fish farming, wave energy projects and also the development of upstream and downstream gas exploration and oil tank development in Trinco which attract FDI is in not even mentioned where many investors can be enticed to come for the development of 20 numbers fishery harbours right around the island to have mini marinas industries coupled with fishery sector development is ignored 

Fish-collecting vessels with offshore bunkering facilities for fishermen are also needed and no benefits are given

Are we only concentrating only on exporting manpower to the Middle East, Green Hydrogen development and diverting state lands for purported agriculture development?

Mineral exploration and value adding and  processing to be done with private investment but  it  cannot be done with unbearable corruption and bureaucratic rules prevailing in the country

Any investor proposing to process minerals is forced to agree on 51/49 % equity with the government hence no one will agree to invest money to develop the industry 

Think tanks are to be appointed and we will be waiting to see who will be appointed with such knowledge 


Wigneswaran says Ranil ignored North-East 

lack of economic zone in North with diaspora investment

  • Slams higher defence expenditure than war years welcomes early military retirement  

BY Mirudhula Thambiah

Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK) Leader MP C.V. Wigneswaran yesterday (15) claimed that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had ignored the North and the East in Budget 2023, adding that proposing an economic zone in the North and asking the diaspora to invest would have been one of the easiest ways by which he could have brought about reconciliation. 

Speaking to The Morning, Wigneswaran noted that from the point of view of the Tamil people, there is nothing worthwhile to talk about in the Budget. 

There are ways by which the Government does not allow the Tamil people to prosper. I don’t see the benefits in this Budget. In fact, they are very much against our interests, especially due to not proposing an economic zone for the Northern Province. As an MP for the Jaffna District, it is from the point of view of the Tamil people that I would be looking at the Budget. I must say that I am frankly disappointed, because there is increased revenue, but how is it going to be spent?”

He also noted that the most glaring error in the Government’s thinking has been the defence as well as the public security expenditure, which had risen from Rs. 427 billion to Rs. 539 billion even after 14 years since the end of the war. 

I just can’t understand why, 14 years after the end of the war, we go on building up our expenditure on defence. Is that what the people want? The people certainly will not be wanting such things; they want benefits for their day-to-day lives. There is so much taxation. They would like these taxes to be decreased, and one of the ways in which taxes could be decreased is by bringing down defence expenditure. The defence expenditure had even gone beyond what was spent during the era of the war. The currency had come down in value and therefore the amount had gone up. But then, that is not the point. Why should it be so much more? What are we trying to do?” 

He also said that from the point of view of the Tamil people, the North has not been identified as an economic zone, whereas Trincomalee, Hambantota, Kurunegala, and the Western Province have been identified as such. 

Trincomalee has been identified because they are going to give jobs to the Sinhalese to drive away the Tamils. Making Trincomalee an economic zone together with Hambantota and other places, and forgetting the Northern Province is irking me, because the Northern Province could have been identified as an economic zone. We could have brought the diaspora to help us. They would have most gladly come and invested,” he added. 

He charged that President Wickremesinghe continues to maintain an ethno-centric philosophy, because he is not being very fair to the Tamil people. 

He is not interested. He is ignoring the North and the East. This casts him in poor light. At the moment, that is one of the easiest things that he could have done, where even more economic activities could have been initiated in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, and he could therefore have made the people of these areas feel at home with the Government. When you go to Colombo and other areas, you see a lot of modernisation taking place but when you come up to Vavuniya and then go up to Jaffna, there is no modernisation. 

An absolutely primitive type of environment is what we are experiencing. The youth want more job opportunities, but there are no new industries and enterprises brought into the North. When I started an enterprise in the Northern Province when I was the Chief Minister, the Government sabotaged it,” he added.

However, he welcomed the retirement prospects with regard to the Army that have been mentioned in the Budget. 

I do welcome the retirement prospects with regard to the Army that have been mentioned in the Budget, where, instead of the earlier 22 years of service, if they engage in 18 years of service, they are entitled to retire. We have 331,000 soldiers in our military, and that is about the 14th largest in the whole world. It is the 14th biggest Army. Great Britain comes after that, because they have only 90,000 soldiers. 

Giving retirement prospects for these people to bring the number of soldiers down is to be welcomed. But they have made it optional. Now, with no jobs available, people will not like to leave the Army, because at least the amount they get there will be worthwhile. They could have made this compulsory, and that is one way by which they could have brought the expenditure of the Army down,” he added. 

President Wickremesinghe in his capacity as the Minister of Finance presented Budget 2023 to Parliament on Monday (14), aimed at creating long-term, stable economic growth.

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