Northern province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran stressed the need to give ‘dual nationality’ to members of the diaspora so that they could return to Sri Lanka and participate in post-war rebuilding work.
He made this request on Thursday while addressing the National Conference on Post-war Socio-Economic Development of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
While being cautious about possible implications of such a move, Mr. Wigneswaran highlighted the importance of a transparent screening process to address any security concerns in such an eventuality.
“The diaspora is a competitive resource we need to capitalise on. They have the technical knowhow and the resources to contribute towards postwar 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. 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. However, for diaspora professionals to come over and participate in the post-war recovery processes we need to have pragmatic, meaningful structures and modalities in place to ensure their security, safety, motivation and participation. 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),” he asked.
However, Mr. Wigneswaran hailed President Mahinda Rajapaksa for having accommodated his request to facilitate the early disbursement of donor money from those living abroad.
“On a positive note, during my recent discussions with the President, in the presence of his Secretary, the Treasury Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary, we discussed the mutual benefits that could be reaped by the Central Government and the Northern Provincial Council by allowing a smooth flow of funds from our brethren abroad, through State organs. One of the difficulties faced by us is the delay in donor monies reaching us. Since valuable foreign currency can flow into the coffers of the State, I said it must ensure the speedy delivery of equivalent local currency to the periphery. The President and his advisors were seemingly very accommodative saying that so long as the donations are approved in advance by the State the passage of the finances to their ultimate destination will be unhindered. This is a positive move and I remain hopeful that we could progress on this front,” he said.Mr. Wigneswaran said a comprehensive needs-assessment of all the sectors was required when dealing with post-war challenges