|Sunday, 12 May 2002|
Indo-Lanka economic ties crucial - PM
by Ariyaratna Ganegoda
The importance of taking advantage of the proximity of India and its vast market for Sri Lanka's exports, was stressed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday in Matara. The Prime Minister was addressing a public meeting after declaring open a pilgrims rest in the Werahena Viharaya.
The Prime Minister noted that in the near future, with the end of garment export quotas for the lucrative United States' and European markets, a reduced access to these markets could threaten the employment situation in the country. That was why it was advantageous for Sri Lanka to enter into a free trade agreement with India, he said.
Mr. Wickremesinghe also observed that the severe problem of unemployment had helped fuel both North-East insurgency as well as the rebellion in the South. The problem of unemployment was the principal challenge before the economy, he said. The Prime Minister warned that unless steps were taken to orient economic development to meet the demand for jobs and thereby enable the country's youth fulfil their aspirations, yet further social problems could arise in the future.
What is needed is the provision of suitable education and the availability of employment opportunities, he said.
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