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* Diaspora is a competitive resource Sri Lanka needs to capitalize on - Northern Province Chief Minister
Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 10:13 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 15, Colombo: Chief Minister of Sri Lanka's Northern Province C.V. Vigneswaran says the Diaspora is a competitive resource the country needs to capitalize on for rebuilding.

Addressing a conference on "Post War Socio - Economic Development and Constructive Engagement with Sri Lankan Diaspora," on Thursday in Colombo, the Chief Minister said the Diaspora has the technical knowhow and the resources to contribute towards post-war rebuilding.

"They have the socio-cultural links with their motherland and also genuine interest, which are important ingredients to foster the transfer of knowledge and technical know-how," Vigneswaran said pointing out that the government does not have the financial resources and professional technical input or knowledge capital to contribute towards an effective post-war recovery process.

"We need to adopt strategies that would facilitate the participation of the Diaspora and lead to a 'brain gain' situation," he said at the conference.

He has added however that for Diaspora professionals to come over and participate in the post-war recovery processes the country needs to have pragmatic, meaningful structures and modalities in place to ensure their security, safety, motivation and participation.

The Diaspora should be given dual citizenships to enable them to return to Sri Lanka and participate in post-war rebuilding work, he suggested.

How can we encourage the return of Diaspora members when we take steps to prohibit dual nationality (except in the case of a privileged few)," Wigneswaran asked.

According to the Chief Minister, a transparent screening process can address any security considerations.

He said he had positive discussions with the President, his Secretary, the Secretary to the Treasury and the Secretary to the Cabinet on the mutual benefits that could be reaped by the Government and the Northern Provincial Council by allowing a smooth flow of funds from diaspora through State organs. He asked the academic community and the intelligentsia of society to exert their influence on the Southern polity to make them understand the needs of the North and East in the post-war context while countering the false propaganda carried out in the Sinhalese and English media by explaining that the Northern polity is committed to non-violence and a political settlement within a united Sri Lanka.

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