US delegation reviews progress in North and East
The United States delegation currently in Sri
Lanka on a five-day visit met with the Economic Development Minister
Basil Rajapaksa at his ministry Wednesday (30) to review the
progress of the development projects in Northern and Eastern
Minister Basil Rajapaksa has apprised of the
delegation on the measures taken by the government to improve
health, education, sanitary services, access roads, and power
supply, among other public requirements in the two provinces through
He has told the delegation that steps have been
taken to uplift the living conditions of the people of the Jaffna
District by developing it as an industrial area.
The delegation comprising Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State James Moore, Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Defense Vikram Singh, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jane
Zimmerman was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador in Colombo Michele
Sison during the meeting with the Minister.
The Economic Development Ministry said the
visitors were impressed by the infrastructure development and
economic progress in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The U.S. officials have however, stressed the need
to increase employment and educational opportunities for the people
in the region recovering from the war and to encourage the private
sector to invest in projects to boost the development in the North.
Minister Rajapaksa has explained that a large
number internally displaced people now have permanently resettled in
their homes with the government assistance and have found employment
According to the Minister the government expects
the increased tourism to the area to bring in more direct and
indirect employment opportunities for the resettled people.
The Minister has further explained to the visiting
delegation that the government has launched a number of programs
targeting widows and female heads of households and consequently a
large number is now self-employed supplying products and services in
small scale under the Divi Neguma program.
He has pointed out to the delegation that the
Northern Province has achieved 22 percent economic growth and has
contributed to the island's overall economic growth.
During their visit, the U.S. delegation met with
opposition party leaders, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and
military commanders, and Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L.
Peiris and reviewed the progress in implementing the Lessons Learnt
and Reconciliation Commission recommendations and National Action
Plan. They were also expected to meet Secretary to the President
Lalith Weeratunga, and other government officials.
The delegation has also visited Jaffna to observe
the progress in the region.
"We went to Jaffna. We saw a lot of progress. We
see the dividends of peace - increased investment, development, the
building of roads, freedom of movement, the ability to travel all
around the country. So you can see the baseline growing for what
will be a sustainable peace," Deputy Assistant Secretary Singh said
at a media briefing on Monday.
Courtesy : President Media Unit