Developmental Co-operand Pilot llnolicsn Housing
Project in Sri Lanka is Complete
Among the many India funded development projects, the most notable was the US$ 270 million Indian housing project for displaced Tamils to build 50,000 housing units in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. India, finally, completed this pilot project after delays caused because of inter-governmental coordination issues and contractor truancies.
The pilot phase of the project for construction of 1,000 houses has been completed. The next phase of the Indian Housing project for 43,000 housing units under the owner-driven mode in the Northern and Eastern provinces has been launched.
In the owner-driven model, beneficiaries will be selected through a transparent and norm-based process on the basis of clearly defined and objective criteria. These beneficiaries will undertake the construction/ repair of their houses with techni cal assistance and support provided by the Implementing Agencies. The money will be released directly by the High Commission of India into bank accounts of beneficiaries based on certification of progress of work. This phase is expected to meet bulk of the housing needs in these areas.
In the last phase of the project, which is also expected to commence soon, about 6,000 houses will be directly built by construction agencies for people from most vulnerable sections of IDPs in the Northern and Eastern provinces and for estate sector in the Central and Uva Provinces.
The pilot project for the construction of 1,000 houses in the five districts of Northern Province was launched in November 2010. Till July 13, as many as 950 houses were completed under the pilot phase, and handed over to beneficiaries. The remaining 50 houses were completed by end-July. The next phase has already begun, and, having learnt from the experience of the pilot project, India is plugging the gaps to ensure that the next phase gets completed at an. early date.
The Indian High Commission has signed agreements to award work to four Implementing Agencies — UN-HABITAT; International Federation of Red Cross ez Red Crescent Societies in partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross; National Housing Development Agen,…-–y (NHDA) of the Government of Sri Lanka; and Habitat for Humanity, Sri Lanka — signalling the launch of the next phase of the Indian Housing Project for 43,000 housing units in Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The construction of 43,000 houses for resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs in Northern and Eastern Provinces is part of the overall commitment to build 50,000 houses announced by Prime Minister Manmohari Singh during the State visit of the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa to India, in June 2010.
The Cabinet approved Reduction of 30% (264 tariff lines,) from the SAFTA Sensitive list for Non Least Developed Countries (NLDCs) allowing the peak tariff rates to reduce to 5% within three years, as per agreed SAFTA process of tariff liberalization. This shall reduce India’s Sensitive list for Pakistan from 878 to 614 tariff lines.
With this decision India has effectively performed its lead role in harmonising the SAFTA framework and ensuring move towards a vibrant economic community and move towards normalisation of trade relations with Pakistan.
India has, in the last one year, steered the trade liberalization process under SAFTA so as to accelerate the pace of the process for SAFTA Economic Integration. A major step taken in this direction was to unilaterally reduce its sensitive list for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) under SAFTA, in
November 2011, to 25 tariff lines thus allowing all other imports at zero basic customs duty. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal benefited as a result of this trade liberalisation move.
Commerce Ministers of India and Pakistan, during the bilateral meeting held at Islamabad on 14th February 2012, agreed that India will consider reduction of up to 30% of its SAFTA Sensitive List, within four months of the notification of a small negative list by Pakistan. Consequently,’ Pakistan Government moved from its ‘positive list’ regime to a ‘negative list’ regime notifying it in March 2012.
India has also taken significant steps to take forward the trade liberalisation process. It has removed the restrictions on investments from Pakistan, agreed upon a liberalised visa regime, opened an Integrated Check Post (ICP) to encourage two way trade.
The SAFTA Agreement was signed on 6 January 2004 during Twelft’n SAARC Summit held in isla.mabad, Pakistan. The Agreement entered into force_ on I January 2006, and the Trade Liberalization Pro gramme commenced from let July 2006_ Following the Agreement corning into force the SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC) has been established comprising the Commerce Ministers of the Member States.