Fulfilling the promise of development
The comprehensive programmes launched by the Government to
address the challenge of poverty reduction were outlined by Secretary to
the President, Lalith Weeratunga, at a World Bank workshop, Wednesday.
It is plain to see that if these programmes and projects are
conscientiously implemented some distance could be traversed in
alleviating the material hardships of particularly our rural poor.
In other words, realising the potential in our development projects
is emerging as a top priority. If the State could bridge this gap
between promise and actuality, the poverty burden could very well be
We urge the Government to marshall all its resources in this effort
to lift the yoke of poverty off the shoulders of our masses.
The State should be commended for the sense of realism with which it
is approaching its developmental tasks. To begin with, it is realised
that what is required is poverty reduction and not elimination.
The former is a realistic target but not the latter. It is also
explicitly realised that this anti-poverty war should be waged mainly in
the rural areas on account of the crippling poverty which is assailing
This accounts for the rural focus in projects such as 'Gama Neguma',
'Maga Neguma' and 'Jathika Saviya,' which aim at primarily the creation
of rural infrastructure facilities.
For, what is keeping some sections in poverty is the lack of
infrastructure, such as, good roads, power-generation facilities and
sound telecommunication networks.
Seen from this point of view, the State's 'Nenasala' project which
seeks to bring modernisation rather than urbanisation to our rural
areas, is a sound stitch in time.
Scientific know how and an insight into Information Technology are
certain to give our poor the capability of reaching not only regional
and national markets for their produce but international markets as
It is such connectivity which brings vast business opportunities
which make a sizeable dent in the poverty problem.
It is obvious that such far-reaching development schemes are premised
on the proposition that we cannot remain content with mere growth
We may be poised to pass the seven percent mark in our growth effort
but all this would mean little if some sections of our population are
continuing to be mired in poverty and backwardness.
The aim should be to ensure that growth is spread evenly among all
sections of our population and until this ideal is reached we cannot
wallow in complacency over some impressive growth statistics.
It is no longer a secret that the bulk of our growth is centred in
the Western Province. This is lop-sided development; if it could be
Rather than persist with this anomaly, it is crucial that all
sections of our people are empowered and we are glad that this is the
aim of our development plans.
Now that the plans are in place and are conceptually sound, let there
be earnest implementation is our wish.
We see accountability on the part of those entrusted with carrying
forward the development process, as the key to successful
There could be no wavering on this score. Those shouldering the
responsibility of bringing development should be called upon to give an
exceedingly good account of themselves.