Prime Minister launches second phase of economic plan
Ceylon Finance Today: The National Economic Development Framework of a Sustainable Era, Balagathu Sri Lankawak was launched on 5 January at the Temple Trees by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
This is considered the second economic plan put forward by the good governance government. The PM launched the first economic plan last year.
Speaking at the launch the Prime Minister went on record and said that this is the second phase of the economic plan of the good governance government which was established in accordance with the mandate received on 8 January and August 2015.
In keeping with their promises, the government wants to create an economy where everyone will benefit instead of just a handful. The government completed the first phase of the economic plan in 2016 envisaging this outcome.
Furthermore, Prime Minister explained that the present government had inherited a country with two major weaknesses. The first is the severe debt burden and the entire last year was spent finding solutions to this problem. The government had even approached the IMF and is confident that within the next three to four years the country's economy will be stable.
The second weakness was the shortfall in the Balance of Payments. This affected the employment generation and the income of the people. At present country cannot cover the imported goods' cost with exports as there is no balance.
To create long-term employment and improve the income the country should move towards an export economy. The Balagathu Sri Lankavak plan outlines how the government is going to achieve it.
Sri Lanka is a small island and we don't have a large market place like India or China. The plus point we have is the location of our country. Our country is situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. At present major development that is taking place in Asia is travelling from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka is situated in the middle of the development zone. We should be thinking of development taking into consideration our location.
In the past our country's location was very important and our aim is to be a prominent country in the world once again using our strategic location and the human capital.
For this we need a large market place as our market place is limited. To strengthen our position we should sign free trade agreements. In the future we will get the benefit of GSP Plus. By signing the ETCA we will get the benefit of the Indian market. By signing the China Trade Agreement we can access the Chinese market. By signing the trade agreement with Singapore we can access that market. We are aiming to access a 4000 million market and have planned for it. Even if we access 1 per cent of it we can achieve a massive development.
Given our location we can be a financial hub. First we have to be a transport hub and to achieve this we have to develop three main ports and two airports. Our country can also be a transshipment hub, for this we need to develop the ports and airports.
It is one of our main targets to make the country a financial hub. The financial city will play a major role in that task. We have identified the sectors which we should develop. Not only the garment industry but, other industries such as goods, electronic industry, IT, tourism, agriculture and fisheries have been identified by us for development and two development zones will be established.
One is the South Western Development Zone, which already has two air ports and two ports.
There will be a huge development in Kandy. We have paid our attention to IT industries, tourism, agro technology as well as the development of Kurunegala and Wayamba associated with the Central Express Way. Tourism zones will be set up in Iranawila, Kalpitiya, Bingiriya, Kuliyapitiya, while industrial zones will be established in Divulapitiya and Mirigama.
We will not talk about the Western Province Megapolis Development Programme. The relevant ministry has prepared a separate report for that. A vast development should be brought through that. For the first time we are establishing a financial city. We are planning to build industries in a 5,000 acre land from the Kalutara- Awisswella Economic Zone. Galle area is scheduled to be developed as a tourism zone with golf courts and IT industries for low-income tourists. Our first industrial zone will be established in Weligama. In addition, the Ruhunu Economic Zone will be extended up to Monaragala. Nuwara Eliya and Badulla will be developed as sub economic zones.
We are expecting a vast development through the reforms in the tourism, agriculture and plantation sectors. We are also planning to develop tourism and agriculture in Anuradhapura. We will also develop agriculture in Batticaloa. The Ampara District will get the benefits of developing Hambantota, Mattala and Trincomalee.
The Pibidunu Polonnaruwa launched under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena will link the development of Trincomalee.
The districts of the North were damaged by the war. Therefore agriculture as well as tourism should be developed in the North. We have planned a special programme to develop these areas. We should develop modern agriculture as well as new financial methods.
We have made the 13-year education compulsory. It is our intention to provide a job related training after the education. Our manpower is limited and therefore we have to get the optimum use of the available man power. It is our aim to increase the per capita income to obtain the manpower. We expect to discuss with the private and the public sector to ensure a per capita income of US$ 300 per month.
In the event we don't ensure a salary of US$ 300 per month, there is a trend that our trained man power will leave for other countries. Our success is with ensuring a good environment for our people. Under our housing programme a number of houses will be given to people in the North and upcountry, while houses will also be given to shanty dwellers.
This is only the framework. Megapolis Ministry has already presented reports. We have plans for the modernization of the fisheries sector, agricultural sector, and educational reforms. This plan was presented to create awareness among the people. Many people question us as to what we have done. We are moving to the second phase. For one year we created the base of the economic plans. Finally, I request all of you to join hands to move the country forward.(RS)
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