Central Bank said yesterday a fast recovery of economic activities is taking place in the Northern Province since the end of the conflict in May 2009, with a provincial nominal GDP growth rate of 14.2 per cent being recorded in 2009, the second highest in Sri Lanka. The Eastern Province recorded the highest growth of 14.4 per cent.
The economic performance of the Northern Province in 2010 is expected to have improved further as peace prevailed during the entirety of 2010. The contribution to the country’s GDP by the Northern Province increased to 3.3 per cent in 2009 from 2.8 per cent in 2006. The Northern Province development programme ‘Uthuru Wasanthaya’ (Wadakkil Wasantham), which was initiated just after the ending of the conflict to expedite resettlement, support livelihood and development of infrastructure in the province, has been continuing successfully.
The total estimated investment in relation to the entire programme is Rs. 295 billion, while 60 per cent of this amount has been allocated for the development of economic infrastructure aimed at encouraging income generating activities and uplifting the living standard of people in the province.
The latest available information suggests that the high contribution to GDP from the Northern Province would be sustained with greater contribution from the agriculture and services sectors.
The gross extent of land used for paddy cultivation in the Northern Province increased by 179 per cent to 67,003 hectares in the 2010/11 Maha season from 24,051 hectares in the 2009/10 Maha season. This resulted in increasing paddy production to 205,507 mt in 2010/11 a 112 percent increase compared to the 2009/10 Maha season. The highest increases in the extent of paddy cultivation were reported in Kilinochchi and Vavuniya Districts.
It is also estimated that the total extent of land used for cultivation of other food crops (OFC) including vegetables also increased significantly in the Northern Province by 172 per cent to 20,043 ha in the 2010/11 Maha season from 7,342 hectares in the 2009/10 Maha season.
Further, the extent of land cultivated increased in relation to big onions, maize, cowpea, black gram and ground nuts amongst other food crops. In addition, the total marine fish production increased by 58 per cent to 33,600 mt in 2010. A substantial increase in fish production is expected in 2011.
Banking facilities have been strengthened in the Northern Province by establishing 37 new bank branches and 22 extension offices from May 2009 to May 2011. At the same time, co-operatives and supermarket chains have increased their ties with farmers, to purchase their produce.
The number of telephone connections in the Northern Province, including wire lines, wireless, local loops, CDMA and payphones, increased by 89 per cent to 74,742 in 2009 from 46,919 in 2008, while the vehicle stock in the Northern Province increased to 47,031 in 2009 from 39,740 in 2008, an increase of 18 per cent.