The Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation, under the guidance of President Maithripala Sirisena, has initiated an innovative program on reconciliation-focused economic empowerment with the aim of strengthening the economic and business linkages between the country’s north and south.
A special budget allocation of Rs. 1,500 million has been provided on the recommendation of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The main objective of the project is to improve the production capacity of the producers of the conflict-affected Northern and Eastern provinces and border districts and to establish links with buyers and exporters from the rest of the country through which inter-ethnic, inter-religious and inter-regional ties will be strengthened to ensure healthy integration and lasting reconciliation, said Secretary to the Ministry of National Integration and Reconciliation V. Sivagnanasothy.
The project will also provide livelihood support to conflict-affected vulnerable families, especially refugee returnees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and war victims.
Assistance will be prioritised to women-headed families, families with disabilities, disabled ex-combatants, families with missing persons and those living in extreme poverty.
The project will support the micro enterprises in the conflict-affected areas to enhance the value chain and facilitate linkages between the north and south. The project will cover sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, livestock, self-employment, micro/small industries, handicrafts and services. The project will support training, technology transfer, machinery, working capital, market facilitation and credit facilitation, said Sivagnanasothy.
The project aims to strengthen reconciliation efforts, reduce poverty in the north and east and border districts through livelihood support and the economic empowerment of communities.