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‘Sri Lanka blocking Tamil development’

[Express Buzz, Thursday, 29 April 2010 10:53 No Comment]

The Sri Lankan government’s overwhelming desire to be seen as the mainspring of economic development in the Tamil-speaking northern province is killing local, Tamil entrepreneurship, says Mu­thukrishna Sarva­na­n­than, director of the Point Pedro Institute of Development.

Dr Sarvananthan said at the Indian Cultural Centre here on Tuesday that all new investments, whether it was an infrastructure project or a roadside tea shop in the Wanni, were being done by the Lankan government or the armed forces, denying opportunities to locals.

The A9 highway from Omanthai to Jaffna was open­ed for passenger traffic in September 2009, but only government buses were allowed to ply till January this year, he said.

And right through the Wanni region, most of the roadside tea stalls and eateries were run by the army when these shops could well be run by the local, jobless, Tamil war refugees living on government doles. When the air force started running passenger services to Jaffna, the private-owned Expo Aviation, which had been running a service till then, became unviable. Again, in Jaffna, when there was a crying need for ordinary rooms for tourists in the private hotel sector, the government had invested in an 80-room luxury hotel at a cost of SLRs 400 million.

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