Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Response to TamilNet

I was let down to read on TamilNet censure of the US Government's programmes to help stabilise and expand Eastern Sri Lanka. Since there is no device to react to TamilNet, I thought I would use the Embassy's blog to react to some of the wrong assertions in the TamilNet piece of writing.

US Ambassador Robert O’ Blake
First, a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP asserts in the TamilNet article that Washington's reason in our programmes for the east is to, "help Colombo create majoritarian inroads into the east." This is wrong. We have specially established the goal of development economic development, good supremacy and stability while preserving the existing racial balance in the east.
It is well known that the east is one of Sri Lanka's poorest provinces and that scarcity and lack of sufficient economic opportunity are main drivers of disagreement. One of the best ways to address such poverty is to establish programmes that will link new businesses in the East with the country's principal markets in the western and other parts of the country. Indeed, USAID's Connecting local Economies programme in the East has five goals: *
First: Support living development for susceptible populations;
Second: endorse the development of agriculture-based worth chains;
Third: Ensure that groups in conflict-affected areas advantage from contribution in these value chains and our other efforts;
Fourth: Implement a workforce development strategy; and finally endorse a business enabling surroundings.
The Member of Parliament also alleges that U.S. development initiatives "take place through direct teamwork between the American organization and the ministries of Sri Lanka, sidelining the provincial council." This also is incorrect. While we of course organize with the Central Government as we would in any state, none of our money goes from side to side the Central Government. Rather, it goes directly to U.S. and/or Sri Lankan organisations working in the east to put into practice our programmes.
Furthermore, one of the goals of our "Supporting Regional Governance" programme in the East is to get better the capacity and Governance of the Eastern Provincial Council and Local Government establishment. specially, this programme aims to hold up and make easy greater than before citizen appointment in Regional and Local Government, strengthen inter-community settlement, and promote social parity by, for example, promoting citizen communication with Government institutions, and intensification the ability of press and media outlets in the East.
Lastly, the MP alleges that America's programme in the east will only "add to the ethnic conflict in the island."
He says "significant development of the east can take place only after a considerable political answer to the Tamil national question." We agree that a political solution is essential, but we do not agree that important development can take place only after a political solution is decided upon.
It is important to give the people of the east the chance now to obtain occupational training and sustainable private sector jobs. Such sustainable living opportunities are an necessary part of ensuring steadiness and development so that the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese communities in the East can reconstruct their lives and help with each other to help the East realize its possible.

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