The National Economic Development Framework of a Sustainable Era, ‘Balagathu Sri Lankawak’ was launched yesterday at the Temple Trees by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Here is the Prime Minister’s speech-:
Today we discuss the second phase of the economic plan of the Good governance government which was established in accordance with the mandate received on 8th January, in August in 2015. Today we have launched the ‘Balagathu Sri Lankawak’.
The government promised to provide a good financial situation to all Sri Lankans. We want to create an economy where everybody will benefit and not a handful. We have started work and the first phase was completed in 2016.
The economy, which was handed over to the good governance government had two weaknesses and they affected the country. The severe debt burden was a problem to the country and last year was spent finding solutions to this problem. We even discussed with the IMF and we are confident that within the next three to four years we will be able to have a stable economy.
The second weakness was the shortfall in the Balance of Payments. This affected the employment generation and the income of the people. At present we cannot cover the imported goods cost with exports as there is no balance.
To create long term employment and improve the income we should move towards an export economy. Our aim is to improve the income by generating employment through an export economy. The plan 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 placing of our country. Our country is situated in the middle of the Indian ocean. At present the major development is taking place in Asia it is travelling from the Pacific ocean to the Indian ocean and Sri Lanka is situated in the middle of the development zone. And we should think of development thinking of our location.
In the past also our country’s positioning was very important and our aim is to be a prominent country in the world using our country’s position 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 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.
Our plan is to access a 22 million market and even if we access 1 percent of it we can achieve a massive development. In the event we are trying to access the market depending on 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.
As well, it is one of our main targets to make the country a financial hub. The financial city will play a major role at that task. We have identified the sectors which we should develop. Not only the garment industries but, other industries such as goods, electronic industry, IT Programs, tourism industry, agriculture, and fisheries have been identified. We have identified these sectors and two development zones will be established.
One is the South Western development zone, which already has two air ports and two ports. Our aim is to establish one development zone as first from Kandy to Monaragala via Hambantota and Wellawaya based on the present road system.
There will be a huge development in Kandy. We have paid our attention to IT industries, tourism, agro technology as we as the development of Kurunegala and Wayamba due to 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 should not talk about the Western Province Megapolis development program. 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 acres 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 upto 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 program to develop these areas. We should develop modern agriculture as well as all new financial methods.
We have made it compulsory for the 13-year education. It is our intention to provide a job related training after the education. Our man power is limited and therefore we have to get the optimum use of the available man power. It should be our aim to increase the per capita income to obtain the man power. It is expected to discuss with the private and the public sector to ensure the per capita income of USD 300 per month.
In the event we don’t ensure a salary of USD 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 program a number of houses will be given to people in the north and upcountry while house 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 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.