The United National Party (UNP) led alliance will seek a fresh mandate at the next parliamentary elections to devolve more powers to provincial councils, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
At Saturday's opening ceremony of Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition in Jaffna, he said while doing so a UNP-led government would also seek to implement a political solution to the national question through the next parliament.
“The constitutional assembly submitted a proposal to increase the powers of provincial councils. It was endorsed by all political parties. However, we could not implement this through the current parliament because we did not have a sufficient number of members. We intend doing it through the next parliament,” the Prime Minister said.
“We don’t want a war in the North again. Some 100,000 lives were lost during the war. We have worked towards establishing a Sri Lankan identity. Reconciliation has to be strengthened while defeating the terrorists who carried out Easter Sunday attacks."
He said the government had distributed loans to 53,000 entrepreneurs and disbursed some Rs.90 billion under the entrepreneur-Sir Lanka programme while strengthening the entrepreneur skills of the people in Jaffna and elsewhere.
"Monies are circulating in the economy and many are entrepreneurs who have successful businesses. Entrepreneurship existed in our history. It is our heritage. There were three main ports in and around the Jaffna Peninsula. These include Trincomalee, Dambakola Patuna and Mantota. We exported elephants and tobacco and were engaged in the pearl industry. However, some 600,000 left Jaffna after 1983. We have brought a resurgence to Jaffna after 2015 and as a result, the contractors in the area have got an opportunity to progress,” the Prime Minister said.
He said the Palali Airport would be opened shortly and provide employment opportunities for many.
"Flights will operate to and from India from the Palali Airport while gradually it will be expanded to other parts of the region later. Tourism will be developed as a result of this move,” the Prime Minister said. (Yohan Perera in Jaffna)