Sri Lanka telecom minister’s home district has worst connectivity
ECONOMYNEXT – Badulla, the home district of Sri Lanka’s telecom minister Harin Fernando is trailing telephone connectivity, after former war-torn areas in the north and east saw strong gains in recent years.
The most recent Household Income and Expenditure Survey of the statistics office said 17.1 percent of households in Badulla district did not have any kind of telephone, down slightly from 17.5 percent in the 2012/2013 survey.
Amparai which had 26.3 percent of household without any type of phone had improved to 9.1 percent.
Batticaloa which had 25.2 percent of households without any phone had improved to 15.4 percent and Trincomalee had improved from 20.0 percent to 12.4 percent.
Ratnapura had improved from 18.3 percent to 9.4 percent.
Moneragala, which is near Badulla had improved from 18.3 percent to 15.4 percent.
Fernando has state-run Sri Lanka Telecom under him, and had complained that it was a useless ministry where he could not give any jobs.
"If he had focused more on improving the conditions for competition among mobile operators rather than placing all his bets on the entity with state ownership, he may have been able to deliver more benefits to his constituents," note Rohan Samarajiva, head of LirneAsia, a policy think tank said in an online post.
However the telecom regulator is under President Maithripala Sirisena.
The Uva province is mainly agricultural and has been hit by a drought. Badulla also has a large estate population whose incomes are also lower. The estate sector in general has the lowest phone ownership with 16.6 percent of households without connectivity.
In the urban sector 4.8 percent of households do not have phones, and in the rural sector it is 8.9 percent. (Colombo/Feb19/2018)