The Prime Minister said that with the approval granted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the agreement by next week, the doors of our economy will be opened again to the international community. Participating in the progress review meeting of Aluth Gamak- Aluth Ratak National Development Program – a multi-sectoral joint mechanism for empowering rural economic revitalization centers to ensure food security and nutrition held at the Hambantota District Secretariat on 17.03.2023.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Hambantota district was an important center of this national programme. The district has proved that it is not only a self-sufficient district but also a district that can be transformed its produce into a surplus. HE the President’s initiation is aimed at making every village that is self-sufficient during the last eight months achieve that end successfully.
One of the main problems that occurred in the last period was the foreign exchange crisis and the international debt payment crisis that occurred at the same time. As a result, the process of temporarily halting the financial institutions that worked with us has an adverse effect on the implementation of our financial policies.
That’s why we moved from earning foreign exchange to reduce the amount spent on imports, as well as to find new ways to enter the export sector in order to restore the economy from the state of bankruptcy. Accordingly, we called for the support of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the support of countries like India, China, Japan and Europe.
With the approval of the International Monetary Fund for the agreement by next week, the suspension imposed on Sri Lanka by the international banking system will be lifted.
Then our transactions will be easier.
As per the government’s policy, we need to succeed in the targeted work programme to develop the village and the entire country in the same way as the revival program started by the village to become self-sufficient in food. To achieve this goal, we expect the cooperation of all government officials at the district level.
We also believe that providing support is a mandatory responsibility of all government officials.
Public service is a service full of responsibility. It is different from the private or non-government sector employment.
It is not political differences that are demanded from those who come under the District Secretary but the support to succeed in this program. We appreciate the positive response of Hambantota farmers given in this regard so far.
It is the farmers who have shown this result at the end. Every country that supports us appreciates the dedication of our farmers.
That is the confidence we have received in these few months.
As of today, two special activities are carried out in our public sector. We have started to carry out a survey on the people who require support from those among the lowest income earners in the society.
It is necessary to fulfill this requirement in each Divisional Secretariat. Those with such requirements have submitted their applications. The survey should be completed by the end of this month.
It’s a pity if some officials refuse to do this. As the Prime Minister, I express on behalf of the government that it is very regrettable if the government officials go on a strike like this to prevent the lowest income earners of our country from being given what they deserve.
We are once again asking you to help these innocent people by completing this survey. Do this duty in the name of humanity. There are many officers appointed just for that purpose. With exemplary dedication, our farmers have achieved this success today.
After receiving this survey report, there will be an opportunity to increase the assistance given to low income earners. This work is now being completed district wise to be able to reach our expected goal.
No additional pressure or a burden is put on anyone engaged in this work. The income is insufficient to pay all the essentials including public service salaries, pensions and other aid. The country’s expenditure has increased.
If you face the problem of high level of tax payment, it is a separate problem with respect to the profession.
We do not expect to violate any of the professional rights and organizational rights.
But if political rights are used to violate professional rights, it has to be considered as a process of working against one’s own duty.
We request you to support us in maintaining the social safety net.
Conflicting statistics can cause problems, so it is important to sort them out. Therefore, we hope to collect information on the number of families without a proper source of food.
Also, we make arrangements to announce a district with a surplus in terms of food production. Steps are being taken to distribute the surplus to other districts as well.
This contradictory conflict inevitably arises because of the problem of wrong statistics.
This should now be converted to a national computerized programme. The system then will re-examine this survey results.
Revitalization committees have been created to be able to work from the village together with the government officials, the people engaged in various productions and multi national organizations from village to village.
Not every village will be self-sufficient in everything. But every village can be self-sufficient with at least some agricultural food production. There is a possibility of producing excess.
If we create an export network, we hope to create such a network by adding ten villages to that network or even a hundred villages in the future.
There is the problem of selling products in many places. A new effort should be made to produce more and bring the materials that can be collected to the market without wasting it.
The national program has provided space in this regard either at the level of the divisional secretariat or jointly by several divisional secretariats.
The process to prepare the mixture of the phosphate deposit in this area and providing it to the village is very important to revive the discussion of many years to get the benefit of the phosphate deposit.
If it has any obstacles and displacement of people, necessary steps will be taken to provide appropriate land for them.
It is an asset we have on this island. When we have wealth on our grounds, we should move towards a different direction rather than bringing it from outside and saying that we do not have foreign exchange.
It is expected that the confirmation of the recruitments made in the department of Multi Task workforce will be done by the first of May.
Discussions on that are being carried out very successfully.
The department has given all the support in it.
By the first of May, we expect to confirm their appointments and place on a higher salary scale.
Most of the people recruited in the local government institutions have not been confirmed for a long time. Although it is difficult to confirm them at once, we are working on it. Based on the number of available vacancies, a sub-committee of the Cabinet of Ministers is now working to on that matter.
Every district faces a problem related to the issue of land release. Lands have been identified. The desire to release the land in this way was discussed.
The government has taken a policy to handover the state-owned land, the lands of Land Reforms as well as the lands belong to the Mahaweli that have been abandoned without being used effectively to the farmers who are interested in agriculture in the country.
The process is delayed even now.
It is necessary to mention again and again it is necessary to work on land release immediately.
If this is done, there will be a new interest in bringing our agriculture to export status.
Farmers are especially facing the problem of fuel. We are working to launch new programs to support the way we can intervene and fuel the machinery.
We acknowledge the concerns raised by the Forest Department. Also, it is essential that we understand and deal with the problems faced by the farmers and villagers.
Kantale sugar factory which spreads across twenty-seven thousand acres is closed today. No one is allowed to enter. It was decided to release 3000 or 4000 acres for the purpose of cultivating green gram. No other cultivation is done. Even the canals through which the water passes are concreted. Under this program, the President issued an announcement from his office that we will give the land to those who grow food for 2 years. Ask them to give land for temporary cultivation. But it’s a pity if you don’t support the implementation. Support must be given to implement it.
Especially when the army had come forward for agriculture, many areas were still not handed over to the army. We intend to take actions soon in fulfilling the desire of the farmers to achieve their mission with the help of all the government officials.
Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, Southern Provincial Governor Willy Gamage, State Ministers Ashoka Priyantha, D.V. Chanaka, Yadamini Gunawardena, Public Administration, Home Affairs Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry Secretary Neil Bandara Hapuhinna, President Cousel on Food Security Program Dr. B. M. S Batagoda, Hambantota District Secretary H.P. Sumanasekara participated in this event.