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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2734

Canada’s development partnership with Sri Lanka hailed

Colombo, 17 February, (Asiantribune.com): "The Government’s immediate concern is providing food, shelter and other facilities to the displaced people who have fled L.T.T.E controlled areas. The fleeing L.T.T.E leadership has only left a collection of bunkers, air strips, and luxurious houses and nothing else for the civilians. Therefore, we have to rebuild infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads so that people can return to their lands; we have to recruit and train teachers, local government officials and police personnel to provide essential services. Livelihoods, especially agriculture and fisheries on which a large number are dependent, have to be resurrected," said Deputy Minister Hussien A. Bhaila.

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Hussien A. Bhaila further said "On the political front, the Government is in the process of working out the political framework within the APRC, so that a politically negotiated settlement would be put in place which would ensure devolution of power to the provinces."

Speaking the inauguration of the Conference and Partners’ Exhibition marking the end of the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) tsunami recovery and reconstruction programme in Sri Lanka, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Hussien A. Bhaila said, "Canada’s development partnership with Sri Lanka started in the early 1950s, soon after our independence, through organizations such as the Colombo Plan. The people of Sri Lanka fondly remember Canada’s role in projects such as Gal Oya hydropower scheme and Maduru Oya scheme that even after decades, still stand as testimony of Canadian assistance to Sri Lanka, which continue to serve the people of our country. Later, the Canadian Government aid was mostly channeled through CIDA. I observe that over the ensuing years, CIDA’s development focus in Sri Lanka has evolved in response to the Sri Lankan people’s needs and circumstances. In this context, the Canadian Government and CIDA could play an important role in the reconstruction of the North and Eastern provinces which is a major development challenge for Sri Lanka."

Given below the full text of the address delivered by Hussien A. Bhaila, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Colombo.

“It is an honor for me to be present on this occasion to declare open the conference and exhibition which marks the final stage of CIDA’s four year tsunami recovery and reconstruction programme. Even though four years have passed by, Sri Lankans still remember the horror and devastation caused by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. We will always be grateful to our friends such as Canada who rushed to Sri Lanka’s aid in the aftermath of the tsunami. Perhaps the most extraordinary and poignant aspect of the aid response was the simultaneous outpouring of support and sympathy by people all over the world, including from the people of Canada. The response from the public, in some cases, even preceded the government and NGO responses.

I am pleased to note that CIDA is now almost at the end of a well planned and comprehensive programme that has greatly benefited the tsunami affected communities in Sri Lanka. In line with the ‘Guiding Principles for Tsunami Recovery’ adopted by the Government of Sri Lanka and our development partners, CIDA’s tsunami aid efforts has been sensitive to the needs of the local communities. CIDA has also taken into account the programme’s impact on gender dynamics and the environment. It is commendable that CIDA has also done a stock taking of the programme and has reported on the lessons learnt. We hope that these findings will be useful to our development partners.

Canada’s development partnership with Sri Lanka started in the early 1950s, soon after our independence, through organizations such as the Colombo Plan. The people of Sri Lanka fondly remember Canada’s role in projects such as Gal Oya hydropower scheme and Maduru Oya scheme that even after decades, still stand as testimony of Canadian assistance to Sri Lanka, which continue to serve the people of our country. Later, the Canadian Government aid was mostly channeled through CIDA. I observe that over the ensuing years, CIDA’s development focus in Sri Lanka has evolved in response to the Sri Lankan people’s needs and circumstances. In this context, the Canadian Government and CIDA could play an important role in the reconstruction of the North and Eastern provinces which is a major development challenge for Sri Lanka.

We are at a juncture where, for the first time in many years, even decades, Sri Lanka has reached a stage at which we see the light at the end of the tunnel. With the fighting on the wane, the next couple of months will be crucial as we need to work towards peace and prosperity of our country. Now that the Eastern Province and most of the Northern Province have been cleared of terrorism, we must move quickly to alleviate the suffering of the people and ensure the security and welfare of the civilians.

The Government’s immediate concern is providing food, shelter and other facilities to the displaced people who have fled L.T.T.E controlled areas. The fleeing L.T.T.E leadership has only left a collection of bunkers, air strips, and luxurious houses and nothing else for the civilians. Therefore, we have to rebuild infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and roads so that people can return to their lands; we have to recruit and train teachers, local government officials and police personnel to provide essential services. Livelihoods, especially agriculture and fisheries on which a large number are dependent, have to be resurrected.

On the political front, the Government is in the process of working out the political framework within the APRC, so that a politically negotiated settlement would be put in place which would ensure devolution of power to the provinces.

Some of these tasks are urgent so that people will at least have a semblance of normalcy and businesses can start functioning. Others have to be planned out with the medium to long term development prospects in mind. But all these tasks will have to be carried out methodically and efficiently so that all Sri Lankans can enjoy the same standards of living and feel that they all have a stake in the development of the county.

Even with the conflict consuming a major portion of our financial resources, Sri Lanka continues to allocate the required funds for education, health services and poverty alleviation as our long term economic prospects depend on the well being of our people. We hope that the international financial and economic crisis will not divert the world’s attention away from the development agenda that needs to be pursued for the long term economic stability of the world. There is still progress to be made on issues such as trade, aid, investment, debt alleviation, and effective international financial architecture. We hope that our development partners will help maintain the world’s focus on these issues.

In conclusion, I wish to again thank the Canadian Government, CIDA and their partners for the excellent work they have done with the tsunami recovery and reconstruction programme. I also hope that tomorrow’s conference will result in productive discussions and outcomes.

- Asian Tribune -

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