Sri Lanka’s victorious Minister of Industry and Commerce who has been given a bigger Ministerial mandate on 20 December welcomed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s entry to Northern Development work-and vowed to re-instate IDP funds wrongfully slashed by the recently dismissed administration.
“As an MP representing the Northern Vanni District, I congratulate our Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe’s appointment as Minister of National Policies. Economic Affairs, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development, Vocational Training, Skills development, and Youth Affairs. Particularly his role as a Minister of Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development shall no doubt uplift the lies of Northern region and its provincial GDP. Also in my expanded role as a Minister of Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons I look forward to re-instate the funds and allocations earmarked to support protracted IDPs in North but were wrongfully slashed by the recent illegal government, thereby putting these IDPs to great difficulties” said Minister Bathiudeen having taken over duties at the Ministry offices in Colombo 3 on 20 December.
Having learnt about the slashing of funds for IDPs, Minister Bathiudeen protested on 30 November, and said: “These long term IDPs, most of them are Muslims in Northern Province, are the group to suffer the longest since the war times. Their resettlement and welfare support by the government is vital since there is no one else to spend for them.
Before our former Cabinet was replaced by the illegal government of October 26 with its new Cabinet, the former Cabinet had approved funds for resettlement of these old IDPs. The approval was a thorough process, and it was also cleared by the policy Planning Ministry of previous Cabinet. Using these approved allocations, resettlement work already started from August 2018. It is unfortunate that the disputed PM slashed Rs 250 Million from this ongoing allocations, leaving these IDPs in great difficulty. Despite leading an illegitimate government, he has even instructed to divert this Rs 250 million for other work away from IDP resettlement. This is an illegal action and harms the ongoing resettlement process of IDPs and therefore I, as an MP from Vanni District have complained to our Speaker Karu Jayasuriya today to mediate and resolve this. We want IDP resettlement process to resume as soon as possible.”
After his re-appointment today Minister Bathiudeen now heads Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce becoming the only Cabinet Minister to hold this portfolio for the fourth term.