The Rehabilitation Authority (RA) has made successful entrepreneurs out of around 11,500 ex-LTTE cadres supporting them in vocational training and providing capital to start self-employment ventures.
“We have released over Rs. 255 million at 4 percent interest to over 1,500 rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres to start livelihood ventures under phase one of the livelihood support project,” said Chairman of the Authority, E.A Samarasinghe. There were around 12,000 ex-LTTE cadres who were either arrested or surrendered to the security forces during the final phase of the war against terrorism.
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Considering the social and economic issues these youth had to face, the office of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation provided vocational training for them during the rehabilitation period. After rehabilitation, the RA had the responsibility of socially reintegrating these youth.
Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Chandrasiri Gajadeera proposed a soft loan scheme to provide initial capital. It financially supports them to launch livelihood projects and there are a large number of success stories under this scheme, Samarasinghe said.
RA has provided a maximum of Rs. 250,000 per person at 4 percent interest with a 10-year repayment period and a maximum grace period of one-year. The period depends on the nature of the project and if the project can generate revenue immediately, there is no grace period.
There are several stakeholders in this project. The three state banks, the Bank of Ceylon, People's Bank and the Sri Lanka Savings Bank provide funds and the Treasury provides 8 percent interest subsidy to the banks. Rs. 300 million has been allocated for phase one of the project and by the end of February 1,549 beneficiaries had received the loans.
Loan disbursement of phase one will be completed by the end of April and 2,000 beneficiaries will receive loans.
A Cabinet paper has already been submitted for phase 2 of the project and Rs. 550 million has been requested. RA hopes to support all rehabilitated youth who need financial support.
They have commenced projects in agriculture, fisheries, domestic industries and small businesses sectors. There are 262 beneficiaries in Jaffna, 312 in Kilinochchi, 357 in Mullaitivu, 41 in Trincomalee, 267 in Mannar, 294 in Vavunia, 10 in Batticaloa, 4 in Ampara.Deputy director of RA, Ananda Wijepala said that most of the projects were successful. “The RA provides enterprise development training programs for the beneficiaries and we closely monitor the livelihood projects.
These rehabilitated people too want to restart their lives with stable employment and integrate with society.” On the other hand there is a demand for some products and service they supply from these ventures in the domestic market.
For instance demand for masonry and carpentry work and services have high demand.The agriculture sub projects are vulnerable to market failures and we cannot meet these issues because these are small projects that are scattered in a large geographical area. However, we are attempting to form producer groups.RA successfully launched a similar credit scheme for displaced families who were resettled in 2010 and its loan repayment rate was over 97%, which was the highest among similar livelihood schemes, he said.
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