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Sunday, 25 September 2011

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Sri Lanka has fulfilled its obligations

UN Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon, in his opening address at the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Wednesday, stressed "the need to serve the planet, lifting people out of poverty and advancing economic growth".

Emphasising the need to face these challenges, the UNSG said that these three factors "are one and the same fight". He highlighted the importance of a collective global effort to address these issues. Ki-moon also spotlighted several other issues facing the world today - particularly the spread of communicable diseases, empowering women, food security and climate change. He exhorted world leaders to focus attention on climate change, support nations transitioning to democracy in the Arab world and push for advances in the stalled Mideast peace process.

Significantly, the three main issues pointed out by the UN chief have already been addressed by Sri Lanka, which is now heading towards new economic horizons with terrorism being a thing of the past. Of the 100 world leaders who attended the 66th UNGA, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had the singular honour of being the only Head of State who had proved beyond a shadow of doubt that terrorism could be eradicated to make the world a safer place to live in.

This feat was indeed a rare, milestone achievement for President Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka which even the so-called big countries are still striving hard to emulate. While most countries in the West and some in South Asia are still making a desperate attempt to eradicate terrorism, Sri Lanka stands out as a shining example, having crushed the world's most ruthless terrorist outfit within three years. This significant and landmark achievement was made possible due to the immense sacrifices by the country's valiant Security Forces and the far-sighted political sagacity of President Rajapaksa.

Hence, Sri Lanka could be proud of its outstanding achievement and is worthy of emulation by UN member countries. Sri Lanka may be a small country territory-wise, but it nonetheless has added a better value for the UN's principles and become a world leader in eradicating global terrorism.

If one were to analyse the three main factors stressed by UNSG Ki-moon, Sri Lanka has taken tangible steps to protect the environment and the planet in which we all live in. While embarking on massive development projects countrywide, environment protection has been given topmost priority.

The Government has paid special emphasis on poverty alleviation by generating more employment opportunities and life skills programs. Nearly half a million people who had been rescued from the jaws of LTTE terror in the North and the East have been provided ample opportunities to revert to their normal livelihoods - be it fishing, cultivation or animal farming.

What is all the more significant is that people living even in remote areas have enhanced chena cultivation and poultry farming.

The resettled civilians in the North and the East, especially, have begun to make an active contribution to the national economy, thereby increasing their purchasing power. These developments would pave the way to help people overcome poverty.

To cap it all, President Rajapaksa did not abandon major development work even during the 2006-2009 period when the country had to spend a colossal sum of money on its battle against terrorism. Though the budgetary allocations on national security were relatively high, the Government still found the wherewithal needed for some of the mega development projects such as the Southern Highway, Katunayake Expressway, Colombo-Kandy Highway, Mattala International Airport, Magampura International Harbour, Moragahakanda Reservoir, Uma Oya project, Kumbukkan Oya project, Upper Kotmale Hydropower project, Kerawalapitiya power project, Norochcholai Coal Power plant, Pallekele International Stadium, Sooriyawewa International Stadium and the construction of nearly 10 flyovers to ease traffic congestion in the capital and its suburbs.

Would any other country battling a deadly war against terror have even dreamt of embarking on such development projects of this magnitude simultaneously? President Rajapaksa had a clear-cut vision to develop the country and, moreover, a commitment to save the nation from the clutches of terrorism which had brought the country to a state of ruin for three decades. LTTE terror put a spoke in the country's forward march.

Nevertheless, the eradication of terrorism has enabled Sri Lanka to march towards new economic horizons triumphantly. At a time when the world's top most economies failed and recession in the West had a negative impact on most countries, Sri Lanka steadfastly beat all overwhelming odds to maintain steady economic growth.

Sri Lanka has maintained an overall economic growth rate of nearly eight percent and it could look even brighter in the years to come. With the dividends of peace contributing in no small measure to boost the national economy, the country could look forward to better economic growth. Although many political opponents and the Opposition criticised the Government's economic policies, it were the sound principles envisioned in the Mahinda Chinthana which helped Sri Lanka to record such encouraging economic growth, notwithstanding the concocted reports emanating from many countries.

This alone speaks volumes and is indeed a positive sign when most countries are struggling to maintain a steady economic growth. Sri Lanka's economic growth would soon be on par with China and India, which are now enjoying the most booming economies in the world. Hence, Sri Lanka could be proud of the fact that it has already achieved sound economic growth as pointed out by the UNSC. In essence, Sri Lanka has already fulfilled most aspects that Ki-moon has been stressing before the international community - the august international assembly.

Hence, the world should not look upon Sri Lanka as a small Third World country in the Indian Ocean that is grappling for economic survival. Sri Lanka has come a long way, especially during the past five to six years.

One could with justifiable pride say that Sri Lanka is enjoying its best ever socio-economic era in its near 26-century history. One should not view this achievement from a political perspective and debunk it because these landmark achievements came about during President Rajapaksa's UPFA Government's tenure in office. The benefits of the Mahinda Chinthana would reach each and every citizen of this country, irrespective of his or her political or religious affiliations. All Sri Lankans could rejoice over the country's steady economic growth and forward march as a truly independent nation.

 

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