Story Courtesy The Island May 7, 2017, by Zacki Jabbar
Coinciding with Cabinet approval of the National Policy on Reconciliation and Coexistence , the government has allocated Rs 1500 Million to strengthen North-South economic links.
Secretary to the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation V. Sivagnanasothy said yesterday that President Maithripala Sirisena as the subject minister had initiated the innovative Reconciliation Focused Economic Empowerment Project, with the aim of strengthening economic and business linkages between the northern and southern provinces.
A special budget allocation of Rs 1500 million for the project had been provided on recommendation of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe,he revealed adding that the main objective was to improve production capacity in the North and East and border districts with a view to establishing links with buyers and exporters from the rest of the country. " It would also strengthen inter-ethnic, inter-religious and inter-regional ties, leading to healthy integration, lasting reconciliation, economic empowerment of communities and poverty reduction."
Sivagnanasothy said that provision would be made to provide livelihood support to conflict affected vulnerable families, especially refugee returnees, internally displaced persons and war victims.Assistance, he emphasised would be prioritized to women headed families, families with disabilities, disabled ex-combatants, families with missing persons and those living under extreme poverty.
Outlining details of the venture, Sivagnanasothy said that it would support micro enterprises in the former war affected areas to enhance value chain and facilitate linkages between the North and South.
The sectors included fisheries, livestock, self-employment , micro/small industries , handicrafts and services, he added.
Sivagnanasothy said that the project would also assist in the provision of training, technology transfer , machinery ,working capital, market and credit facilitation.