The 2009 Budget contains the following statement:
Allocations were made in the 2006 Budget to connect rural villages in backward areas with the rest of the world and enable them to blend with the global community and economic trends, through Information Technology. This program has enabled online connectivity through around 500 Nana Sala Centres, between villages, schools and state and public institutions, and also facilitates to broaden the knowledge of English and Information Technology. I propose to name the year 2009 as an year dedicated to expand the knowledge of English and Information Technology and allocate Rs. 100 million to broaden the scope of this programme.
The questions are:
* The Budget contains no other allocations for ICT related activities, explained possibly by the existence of a USD 80 million or so e Sri Lanka program, funded primarily by a concessionary IDA credit and a Korean loan which has not been fully disbursed and is in danger of being cancelled. Why was it not possible to include the e village program (which appears on the face to be closely related to the Nena Salas) within the e Sri Lanka funding. Work will get done; disbursement will increase. Is there some opposition to e-villages within ICTA that causes this work to be outside?
* How much was allocated in 2006; how much has been spent so far; how many villages were converted to e villages and has an assessment been done before additional funds are spent? Original plan was for five villages in five provinces. Now what is the score?
* Why is it that it is schools that join the program, not villages? Is the program better described as e-schools?
* Does anyone see an irony in the same amount being allocated for celebrating the 50th anniversary of the organization that gave the President his first job? Or the insult of 60 times the allocation made to e villages being made for an airline that already lost over LKR 3 billion and is guaranteed to lose more in today’s aviation industry environment?
* What specific actions will be taken to expand knowledge of IT and English? Is this the year that the government will finally provide accreditation to the various IT courses being offered across the country?
Unlikely that we’ll get answers from the do-nothing Parliament; perhaps some readers with specialized knowledge will chip in.