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On the votes of the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs in the Committee Stage of the Budget PDF Print E-mail

Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

On the votes of the Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs

In the Committee Stage of the Budget, December 9th 2013


I am honoured to speak on the votes of the Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs, which deals with perhaps the most important subject we need to consider. I say this because, while the development programme government has put in place with regard to infrastructure is vital, it will serve no purpose unless we also concentrate on human development. In this regard we need to ensure that our children are in full enjoyment of all their rights, and that we also empower them so that any violations are minimized.

 

It is equally important, Mr Speaker, to ensure that women are not only protected, but also empowered. For this purpose we must put in place coherent mechanisms that can identify shortcomings and address them promptly and systematically. Above all we must move from simply reacting to problems, but rather anticipate potential problems and avoid them – a strategy, I should add, that would hold us in good stead with regard also to international relations as well as domestic politics.

 

With regard to Women and Children, I am happy to say that we have an active Ministry that is able to conceptualize and initiate new measures. Chief amongst these is the establishment of Women and Children's Units in every Divisional Secretariat. If I might say so, this Ministry has been the first to recognize the importance of the Division, which is the first active interface between government and people. Indeed this Ministry has also recognized the importance of the Grama Niladhari Division, which is the first actual interface, though it is for the raising of issues rather than solving them. I should add that it would make sense to set in place, even in GN Divisions, consultative mechanisms to resolve simple problems. However it the Division that is the first level at which more important decisions can be taken, and where the front line officers of various government institutions can meet to discuss problems and plan responses – and where they can discuss trends that will help them to anticipate problems and avoid them.

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Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP In the Budget Debate - November 27th 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of the 2014 Budget which, as in previous years, has a number of innovative ideas. These, if implemented coherently, will do much to alleviate poverty and ensure the equity which this government has striven to promote. It is a remarkable achievement that, despite the difficulties of the last few years, we have continued to have what the Sunday Times in England described as 'a rate of economic growth that would inflame the loins of George Osborne' – which I believe is meant to suggest jealousy rather than sexual excess. This was in a hard hitting attack on David Cameron's arrogant behavior that ended up suggesting he should apologize.


For this growth to continue however we need to ensure that we have clear cut policies to attract investment, as well as better human resource development policies, with mechanisms to monitor performance. These, as well as systems of grass roots consultation, as laid down in the Mahinda Chintanaya, are essential if growth is to be sustainable and equitable.

 

Such consultation has contributed to the formulation of the budget, as is clear from the account of agrarian development. I have myself drawn attention to the problems identified by farming communities, Muslim and Sinhala and Tamil, following discussions at Divisional Secretariat level, and their urgent need for a comprehensive water policy as well as protection from wild animals. I am happy government is responding so readily, but as noted it is important to ensure that those in need are kept informed of measures that will be taken, together with a time frame. It is also important, as the budget notes, to deal swiftly with the kidney disease that has taken such a toll in rural communities, and I hope the large allocation for water purification plans will be used swiftly and sensibly. I should note that these are needed in other Provinces too, as I found in the Western Divisions of the Trincomalee District.

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