Tamil community has every reason to resist bid to undermine stable peace – Prof. Peiris in Jaffna

The situation now prevailing in the country after the eradication of terrorism enables the inherent potential of the Northern Province to be fully realized for the benefit of all its inhabitants, Prof. G. L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development and International Trade said in Jaffna last week.

The government’s plans for the development of the area involves emphasis on four major areas of economic activity - agriculture, fisheries, small and medium sector industries and the service sector, he noted.

He was addressing a largely attended gathering of farmers, entrepreneurs and community leaders at the district secretariat in Jaffna.

He had earlier distributed equipment at the fruit based products factory at Uduvil, Chunnakam, for the upgrading of these products with a view to satisfying ISO requirements and securing access to international markets. A cold room, laboratory equipments and packaging materials were distributed as part of the programme of the Export Development Board (EDB) in connection with the expansion of agriculture promotion villages.

Prof. Peiris observed that Hector Kobbekaduwa, when he contested President J. R. Jayawardena at the Presidential Election in 1983, secured substantial support in the Jaffna area. This was attributed to the high levels of income earned by the farming community in Jaffna prior to the outbreak of terrorism, from chilies, onion and potato cultivation, he recalled.

At the meeting at the district secretariat in Jaffna K. Poornachandran, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to Yalpanam, expressed enthusiasm about using the positive environment in the country for the achievement of rapid economic progress.

Prof. P. Balasundaram Pillai, former Vice Chancellor of the University of his Jaffna made a detailed presentation to the Minister about the priority needs of Jaffna district.

Prof. Peiris said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had sacrificed two years of his first term to enable voters of the Northern Province who were deprived by the LTTE of the opportunity of using their franchise in November 2005, to participate fully in the national mandate he has sought for economic development and reconstruction.

All plans which had been drawn up in the past in relation to the political process had failed because of the lack of a national consensus for implementation, he said. However, the country now has the advantage of a leader who has the capability to deliver, and this opportunity should not be missed, he stressed.

The Tamil community has a great deal to lose on account of initiatives, both direct and insidious in various quarters to undermine durable peace in pursuit of partisan political gains, he continued.

Douglas Devananda, Minister of Social Service and Social Welfare, joined Prof. Peiris in distributing equipment for upgrading of agriculture.

In the University of Jaffna, Prof. Peiris, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, met with the Vice Chancellor Prof. N. Shanmugalingam and several Deans, Professors and academics for a discussion on the current political situation.

Prof. Peiris and Gamini Gunadasa, Chairman of the Industrial Development Board, later met at the IDB office in Jaffna to discuss plans for the development of Jaffna District.

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