Sri Lanka to be made strongest economic hub in the region – PM

Ranil Wickremesinghe - Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

A value addition production platform will be created after transforming Sri Lanka into the hub of the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Plans have been formulated to make Sri Lanka the strongest economic hub in the region by transforming the whole country into a Megapolis through the process of urbanisation.

The Prime Minister said this participating in the “Mega Minds” programme held at Temple Trees to create an awareness among intellectuals, public servants and media persons on Urban Development activities in the country on April 3. The Prime Minister said as politicians they had a responsibility to look after their electorate or village.

He did not take over that responsibility because the duty of looking after his area had been vested in the Megapolis and Western Development Minister to ensure a systematic and scientific development in the region.

“What we saw here was the transformation that would take place under this programme”, the Prime Minister said.

He said when votes of the Development Strategies Ministry was taken up in Parliament, members who spoke about Hambantota development during the past regime spoke about the Hambantota Salterns when steps had been now taken to develop Hambantota. The irony was that the Salterns had occurred to their minds only belatedly.

The Prime Minister said the Mega Minds programme would intervene on behalf of all the people. All visualised what the government was doing and the programmes planned for the future.

The Prime Minister said a country could not be developed in a short span of five years.

“The government had a vision and plan. What was started in 2015 would be carried forward. First of all, they had stabilised peace and democracy. Good work should be carried forward whatever their political ideologies would be. Still there were human problems in the North. More and more houses had to be built there,” the Prime Minister said.

“The last five years was spent on resolving the huge debt problem. This year 5.9 billion US dollars had to be spent to repay debts,” he said.

“The country’s primary and current accounts had reached positive levels. Investors looked at a country’s debt situation before making new investments,” the Prime Minister said.

He said the government had allocated enormous funds towards the Education and Health Sectors while repaying massive debts. Thirteen years of continuous education had been made mandatory for children. He said Economic Zones are coming up in Hambantota and Bingiriya. An economic corridor would be set up linking Colombo and Trincomalee.

“The region from Mannar to Trincomalee would be brought under development. The road network linking Mannar, Trincomalee through Kandy and Dambulla and Colombo and Hambantota, would promote developed economic zones.

The development of the Colombo Port and its Southern terminal was important in this regard,” the Prime Minister said.

The Northern Port would be developed towards the Wattala and Ja-Ela areas. Plans have also been formulated to develop the Trincomalee Port,” the Prime Minister added.

“People could enter the ‘Smart Era’ if they possessed technological skills, knowledge and Information Technology Skills. Today, certain people questioned about the performance of the government during the last five years. What the government did was to use the five years to lay a solid foundation for the 10 year development plan,” he said.

The Prime Minister said he wished to thank Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka for creating a dialogue about the performance of the government.

Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said almost 40 percent of the country’s tourist earnings were spent by locals on foreign travel. Almost 30 percent of the country’s engineers had left the country for foreign pastures during the last three decades. Almost three million Sri Lankans had left the country for good so far. The largest number of Sinhalese were residents in the Colombo district. The next largest number of Sinhalese live in Melbourne, Australia rather than other parts of the country like Kandy, Galle or the Matara districts. The largest number of Tamils live in Jaffna. The next largest number of Tamils live in Toronto, Canada rather than Trincomalee or Batticaloa. The country had attained a positive level in certain sectors such as health. The average life expectancy which was 55 years during the time of Independence had now reached 78 years. On this score Sri Lanka was in the forefront compared to other countries in the region.

Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Parliamentarian Ashu Marasinghe and Colombo’s Mayor Rosy Senanayake were also present on the occasion.

(Source: Daily News – By Chameera Elladeniya)

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