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Sunday, 2 May 2010

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Lanka full of resources for ‘Wonder of Asia’

Sri Lanka has resources and the leadership to convert the country as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and truly a wonder of Asia. Economists say that the island also has the capability to have a better economy than Thailand and Indonesia in four years time.

One of the main reasons Sri Lanka can look at being the wonder of Asia is ending of the war also its natural and human resources, sound economic management and the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The President promised to end the 30-year conflict in Sri Lanka and he did it as promised and all ingredient to lead Sri Lanka as one of the top nations in Asia is spelled out in the 'Mahinda Chinthana'.

Former President of the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chairman Hotel Developers, Nawaz Rajabdeen the owning company of Colombo Hilton said that tourism too would play a major role towards leading Sri Lanka to be the wonder of Asia.

"No where in the world can you find a country where you could travel from one climate to another within a few hours. In addition the smiling Sri Lankans too are an asset to tourism."

"This has resulted in all hotels in Sri Lanka being overbooked after June 2009, and the revenue multiplied four times in the second half of 2009." He predicted this trend would continue in the future as well.

The Peace dividend is reflecting healthily in the leisure sector with many international events being hosted in Sri Lanka giving high yields to the industry and the staff as well.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa discusses development work of the Colombo South Harbour expansion project

President examines the model of the proposed Mattala Airport.

Former Chairman Export Development Board (EDB), and the National Council For Economic Development (NCED) and Head of Portfolio Development United Nations Operations (UNOPS) Rohantha Atukorale said that Sri Lanka must drive a "Nation Branding" with the mandate of the people given at this elections.

"Sri Lanka is a buzz word globally right now, ranked within the top ten growth economies of the world and a hot spot tourist destination.

We now need to capitalize on this opportunity and build Sri Lankan economy to be the "tiger" of South Asia before this world buzz dies down on Sri Lanka in the next two years," he said.

The mandate that the people have given, is win for the "Home Grown Economic Model" that Sri Lanka has been practising for the last five years and now, we must drive investments into Tourism and build the economic model around the port development and aviation industry.

"With the second port coming up in Hambanthota, Energy through oil exploration and trade between South Asian countries whilst securing the EU market Sri Lanka must invest on the Tea industry and Cinnamon industry so that Nation Branding will take place naturally," he added.

The Private sector must support the Government to make Sri Lanka practice a "home grown economic model" where we achieve zero poverty, zero child mortality and zero unemployment levels which are achievable goals for our country.

An official of the Yalpanam Chamber said that with the ending of the war resources that were untouched for three decades have come up for grabs.

The untapped sea resources are huge and in addition the land cleared for development after the war too would be a boon to agriculture and the livestock industry.

Steps are already being taken to reopen one of Asia's top mineral sand factories in Pulmudai along with the cement factory in Kankasanthurai.

The Indian Government has also given a pledge that they would assist in converting both the Palali airport and the KKS harbour to international ones.

The Indian High Commissioner Ashok A. Kanth who was in Jaffna last month also said that there would be a time where flights would take off from Palali to south Indian destinations and a free service being launched from KKS to India.

Connectivity between India and Sri Lanka would be made even closer with this and it would open the door to the huge Indian market for the North East investor.

Economists say that though both Indonesia and Thailand are almost ten times bigger than Sri Lanka and have more resources than Sri Lanka the unhealthy political situations would create major problems for them.

Foreign investors would have second thoughts to invest while this government would have additional problems to face rather than economic development. In 2008 the per capita income in Indonesia was around US $ 2010 while Thailand 2840 and Philippines at 1980 followed. Last year Sri Lanka passed the US $ 2010 mark after being US $ 1790 in 2008 and government is aiming to take this to the US $ 4,000 mark by 2016 clearly giving an edge over these countries.

Sri Lanka's economic growth rate which was averaging around 5.5 percent even during the height of the war, would increase in the future and this too would be another positive sign.

Former Central Bank Director, Vincent M. Fernando has stated that Sri Lanka has the capacity and the vision to reach this illusive mark which would place Sri Lanka as one of the top countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Construction work of the Hambantota harbour at a brisk pace

The new venue in Hambanota which will host the world’s fourth largest sporting events - Commonwealth Games in the future.

It is expected that Sri Lanka would move with the rapid economic development taking place in India and the high yielding economy of the Maldives (boosted by fisheries and tourism) as the three most high earning per capita income countries in Asia.

However it would be a tall order for Sri Lanka to aim at being the top of Asia with Japan, Singapore and Korea boasting of high per capita incomes in the excess of US$ 20,000.

Looking back at the Sri Lanka economy it was among the best three nations of Asia in the 1950s.

However since then Sri Lanka took a tumble while other countries in the region such as Singapore and Malaysia surged ahead.

A Sri Lankan economist from New Zealand, D.W. Prathapasinghe who was in Sri Lanka for a brief holiday after nearly 10 years said he was surprised with the development of Sri Lanka. "I was amazed at the Colombo airport and the other infrastructure that is shaping in Colombo and the suburbs.

I also went out of Colombo and the most of the roads are of international standards," he said.

He said that one of the main reasons for Singapore, Dubai and Malaysia to surge ahead was the law and order situation that prevailed. "No one was above the law and this even led to less corruption," he said.

He said that he was sad with the number of crimes taking place in Sri Lanka . "The common agreement against death penelty is, that an innocent man may go to gallows. But just see how many innocent people are being murdered due to the rising of crime," he asked.

Gamini Perera from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Office in Melbourne said that one of the main things that should be done to lead Sri Lanka to be the wonder of Asia is to reduce the government workers and also pay them high salaries."

This would make them more efficient and also minimize corruption," he said.

He said that Sri Lanka would strike oil next year and this will bring a surge of international investors.

A strong government, high literacy rate, high per capita income, intentional airports and harbours, oil deposits, flexible investment policies, cheap electricity (in two years) best telecom density country in the region are some of the other major plus points for Sri Lanka to lead it to be the wonder of Asia.

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