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Government Gazette

Northern development

The appointment of a Presidential Task Force to oversee the recovery program of the Northern Province is a sound move particularly given the enormous ramifications of the job at hand.

The Task Force appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa through powers vested in him under the Constitution has been given a wide mandate among other things to prepare strategic plans, programs and projects to resettle internally displaced persons, rehabilitate and develop economic and social infrastructure in the Northern Province.

It is appropriate that such a high powered task force be given job of charting the development course for the North because it is only such a body which has the President's authority that would get things moving fast. And there is an overwhelming need to get things moving fast given the unfolding humanitarian crisis which calls for a quick remedy.

One of the tasks entrusted to the Special Task Force is to apply innovative solutions to problems and constraints confronted in the execution of its mandate.

Certainly a gigantic task as the recovery of the Northern Province from the ashes of three decades of war needs an extraordinary effort. Such an overwhelming task cannot be undertaken by the normal State machinery which is necessarily hamstrung by it's own limitations. We have often seen how frustrated foreign investors had thrown up their arms and left the country due to the foot dragging by the various State agencies and Government regulatory bodies.

No doubt there is going to be massive investment from overseas as well as the country's private sector in the reconstruction program. The President obviously has realised that no impediment should be placed in their path if the various projects and programs designed for the long suffering people of the North are to be implemented speedily.

The appointment of Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa MP to head this Task Force too is a wise step. Given the vast strides reached in the development sphere in the Eastern Province carried out under his supervision one can be optimistic that things would move even at a faster pace on the Northern front. In fact all members of the Task Force are men of competence with a proven tack record.

Their prime task would be to remove all bottlenecks and ensure that the programs are implemented speedily. Such a Task Force is also of much value to ensure that funds that would pour in are properly utilised avoiding waste. As we have mentioned in these columns before, development should go hand in hand with military victories so that no vacuum is left for further frustration to creep in to a long suffering community. This phenomenon is now being witnessed in the East where concurrent to the military victories development projects started moving.

The Northern Provincial election to be held shortly can only strengthen the process while additionally restoring the democratic rights of the people to go hand in hand with the renaissance of the North.

As part of it's mandate the Task Force will also liase with all organisations, the public, private sector and civil society organisations for the proper implementation of the programs and projects.

Such a coordinated effort is vital since the North is bound to have unique features of it's own in economic, cultural and social development that only could be addressed through a consensual approach.

It is important that development and social integration programs match the particular demands and requirements of the Northern polity. In the past, wasteful projects were haphazardly done in areas where such projects had no relevance or public acceptance. The Southern Development Authority is a case in point. This was because the people were not consulted in the interim.

While the Presidential Task Force plan out the development requirements of the people in earnest it should also pay attention to develop a proper administrative structure that would ensure all the people's needs are met. Today the North is a barren wasteland wherein any development plan would have to be worked out from scratch. The Task Force would have to carefully work out how to rebuild the shattered livelihoods of the people, restore basic facilities such as health and education and map out the development of infrastructure.

The Government has already done this successfully in the East where Local Government elections were successfully held and the people given a stake in running their own affairs. Hopefully this scenario will be replicated in the East before long.

The Doctrine of Public Trust

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The topic encompasses concepts of Constitutional Law that pertain to the sovereignty of the People and the Rule of Law. These concepts have evolved in Constitutional Law to safeguard the rights of the people, but, if a question is asked from any ordinary person as to what the concepts mean, the answer would be:

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IDPs alleviated to substantial degree

Thank you, Sir John, for your account of the current situation in Sri Lanka, and your efforts to collect funding to help resolve the problems faced by the displaced. I should note that we would have appreciated greater notice of this briefing,

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Defence Column

Ground troops brave terrorists’ last-gasp attacks

The three year long effort by the Sri Lankan Security Forces to eradicate LTTE terrorism has reached its climax as troops engaged in the final battle to rescue the last batch of civilians kept hostage by the Tiger terrorists entered into its most crucial stages as of yesterday.

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