- NP politicians say 50% increase in youth migration in NP between 2011 and 2015 period
- NP economic growth rate has slowed down after 2012, a new report reveals
- Special development fund for NP to be announced in upcoming budget
By Nishel Fernando
The Northern Province public representatives recently urged the government to adopt short-term employment creation schemes in the Northern Province, as skilled youth migration has spiked, due to the lack of employment opportunities for the youth in the province.
“The high unemployment is one of the key issues in the province. The youth migration takes place as a result of unemployment giving some startling figures, where there’s a 50 percent increase in youth migration between the 2011 and 2016 period, than before. In 2014, around 12,000 persons have migrated,” Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament (MP) M.A. Sumanthiran pointed out.
He made these observations speaking at the launch of the Northern Development Framework report by the Central Bank, at the Finance and Mass Media Ministry, last week.
He stressed that the government needs to develop a strategy in the short-run to retain the human resources of the Northern Province.
Sri Lanka’s Northern Province saw a short-lived economic development, driven by the war recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation, between 2010 and 2012.
However, it was pointed out that since then, people have been struggling to boost their income levels with lagging productivity, outdated technology and a low-economic base, indicating a failure in the projects initiated by the government.
“At a provincial level, the outcomes of these strategies have fallen short of their expectations. Overall, the rate of provincial growth slowed down after 2012.
As of 2017, the Northern Province was host to the lowest number of industrial enterprises in the country and of the 23 enterprises registered under the Board of Investment, only one has been diaspora funded; the northern industrial sector continues to expand at far lower levels than the national average,” the authors of the report stated.
Sumanthiran opined that the government shouldn’t solely rely on the private sector to revitalise the abandoned industries during the war and instead, he suggested that the government should work with the co-operatives, which play an active role in the province’s economy.
Meanwhile, TNA MP and Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchi Leader Mavai Senathirajah noted that he has earlier informed the government to adopt measures to utilise the abundant manpower in the province to boost agriculture products, such as grapes, fisheries, dairy and palmyra.
He also believes that at least 10,000 new job opportunities can be generated by reviving the currently defunct cement plant, chemical plant and paper plant, by bringing modern technology to the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The MPs also raised the issue regarding recruiting outsiders for state jobs inside the province, which they pointed out as another contributing factor for high unemployment in the province.
“We informed this three years ago but it’s still keep happening. For an example, the electricity meter readers have to come with translators to houses because they can’t communicate with the owners of the households,” Sumanthiran said.
Responding to the concerns raised by the lawmakers, Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that he has issued strict guidelines to all the branches of state banks present in the Northern Province to only recruit locals in the area for future vacancies.
Sumanthiran noted that the slow implementation of the development and reconciliation programmes in the war-torn Northern Province is causing people to lose confidence in the government.
“A good example is the Office on Missing Persons (OMP), which is one thing that is happening. However, it’s too slow; the people become sceptical and even cynical whether that is ever going to be materialised.
Then you are going to have a reverse impact, which is a worse loss of confidence than in the beginning. So, how do you ensure, when you look at it from a development finance perspective; you need to win confidence,” he elaborated.
Samaraweera ensured that the government would introduce a special development fund for the province in the upcoming budget to enhance the provincial economy.