‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ and ‘Gamperaliya’ programmes to expedite rural economic growth | Sunday Observer

‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ and ‘Gamperaliya’ programmes to expedite rural economic growth

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera greets senior officials of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Rajendra Theagarajah and Vish Govindasamy at the 179th AGM of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Pic: Sulochana Gamage
Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera greets senior officials of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Rajendra Theagarajah and Vish Govindasamy at the 179th AGM of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on Thursday. Pic: Sulochana Gamage

The renovation of over 4,000 rural tanks will commence next year to boost the contribution of the agricultural sector to the economy from the current seven% to eight % of the GDP to a much higher level. This will also be a shot in the arm for the revival of the rural economy, Minister of Finance and Mass Media Mangala Samaraweera said while addressing the 179th Annual General Meeting of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Colombo last week.

‘The Government has embarked on a series of measures to accelerate economic growth in all key sectors that drive the economy. The village economic revival under the Enterprise Sri Lanka and the Gamperaliya programmes will expedite economic growth from the current status,” Samaraweera said.

Accordingly, the Government plans to commence renovation of 100 rural tanks within the next two months targetting to renovate all tanks across the country to boost the rural economy.

The contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP last year was 7.7% recording a 0.8% dip from the previous year due to adverse weather conditions which prevailed throughout the year. The Minister said that the Prime Minister would be visiting villages to look into the needs of the villagers and get the ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ programme off the ground in respective areas.

He said besides the renovation of tanks, all rural roads will be renovated to facilitate economic growth in the rural sector.

“Our target is to create 100,000 new entrepreneurs by 2020 for which the Government has invested Rs. 60 billion through the ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ programme which also includes improving the spiritual and recreational life of people,” the Minister said.

Measures are being put in place to improve the business confidence in the country to encourage private sector investments and also drive Foreign Direct Investments.

‘The final touches to the new Customs and Excise Ordinance is being placed and the new ordinances will be in force shortly that will help unlock the space for the private sector to thrive,” the Minister said. Trade unions say the new Customs Ordinance will dilute the powers of Customs officials paving the way for criminals to operate and get away easily. However, amending the 200-year old law has been long overdue and delaying it further will not help the country to keep pace with new trends and modern technology. The Minister said the current Government which inherited a debt burdened economy in 2015 revived the economy and restored macro economic stability during the past three years. A higher level in FDI, exports and a primary surplus was recorded for the first time since the 1950s last year .

“We have taken steps to reduce the budget deficit and bring down the cost of living which the former Government failed to do. Inflation was down at 2.1% in May. Many criticise the weak currency but if you look at many countries in the region their currencies are much weaker and all these are beyond the control of the Government,” the minister said. CCC Chairman Rajendra Theagarajah thanked the Finance Minister and the Governor of the Central Bank for the role they played in improving macro economic fundamentals. “Macro economic fundamentals have been restored and FDIS, exports have improved. However, the GDP being below 4 % for several quarters is a disturbing factor which policy makers need to consider seriously. “The Chamber calls upon the stakeholders of the country to unite and abhor violence and prevent recurrence of the incidents in Kandy to take the country forward,” Thegaraja said. 

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