The three R’s have done this on many occasions | Sunday Observer
Leaders are appointed to take the right decisions

The three R’s have done this on many occasions

12 June, 2021
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Leaders are appointed by the people to take the right decisions at the right time to elevate the country to the next level; the three R’s have successfully done this on many occasions.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Highways Minister Johnston Fernando, State Minister of Rural Roads and other Infrastructure Nimal Lanza and other Ministers at the launch of six road construction projects aimed at easing traffic congestion in Colombo and Kandy

Firstly, it was Sri Lanka’s first Executive President, J.R. (Jayewardene) who did the impossible to complete the Mahaweli Development in six years when it was scheduled to be completed in 30 years.

Then it was M.R. (Mahinda Rajapaksa) who crushed the world’s most sophisticated terror group LTTE with a notorious track record of killing two Prime Ministers (Rajiv Gandhi and Ranasinghe Premadasa) and led the world’s largest humanitarian operation in the process by saving peoples from the claws of death in the hands of LTTE.

He also set a fine example by simultaneously leading an economic recovery, raising the economic growth rate from 2% to 6% despite fighting a battle against terrorism and also launching a mega development drive by building new ports, airports, power generation capabilities, highways and the Port City from where people are now reaping economic benefits even today.

During the nine-year period from 2006 to 2014, despite the expenditure for the fight against LTTE, Sri Lanka’s GDP increased from USD 24 billion to 79 billion. Unfortunately, during the next five years despite enjoying the peace dividend the GDP only increased to USD 82 billion and stagnated.

The third, G.R. (Gotabaya Rajapaksa) while successfully battling the Covid-19 pandemic and keeping the economy going, is also engaged in a drive to make Sri Lanka the first nation in the world to discourage the 100% use of carbonic fertiliser. There is great potential for Sri Lanka to be a major organic fertiliser agriculture exporter for which there is a huge emerging demand.

The move towards organic agriculture is not a sudden decision by the Government. The “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” National Policy Framework affirms that in order to produce a healthy and productive citizenry, the Government must ensure the right of the people to access a non-toxic and balanced diet. To achieve this objective, the Government has taken measures to ensure that only organic fertiliser would be used in the agriculture sector in the country in the future.

President Rajapaksa emphasised that the program should be implemented for the benefit of future generations, notwithstanding criticisms from some sections of society. Despite attempts to create a shortage, sufficient fertiliser has been imported until the next season.

Economic projects ahead despite pandemic

Similar to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa era where mega development projects took place even despite spending over Rs. 138 billion towards Covid management well coordinate projects such as building of new highway routes, carpeting 100,000 km of roads, acceleration of the Colombo Port City and creating Hambantota Economic and Special Pharma Zones, Water For All and other slimier projects.

There was also one common factor when the three R’s were ruling the country. JR had the JVP uprising, MR had to fight LTTE terror while GR was having to battle the Covid-19 pandemic. However, none compromised economic development.

While the world is fighting a pandemic Sri Lanka is hosting an economic summit and many questions were asked if this is held at the right time.

“There are tremendous investment opportunities that can be offered from Sri Lanka even during a pandemic, ‘’ State Minister of Money and Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ajith Nivard Cabraal said.

“People are asking if we were mad to have an event of this nature when the world and Sri Lanka are facing a pandemic and all local and global economic indicators are low.”

He recalled that during the battle in 2006, while maintaining an 8% economic growth, mega development drives were launched and people asked if the then Government was mad to do that. But we believed that during the battle, you must prepare for peace and due to our then strategy today people are reaping the benefits from these investments. Hence those who come and take positions will certainly benefit.”

The State Minister added that because of the Covid challenge, the Government has not forgotten its vision for investment goals and to improve economic fundamentals like DBI, tax reforms, macro fundamentals, investor friendly laws and provide incentives as well. He also ensured carrying forward the long standing policies of Sri Lanka.

Regaining what was lost in 2015

Secretary to the President Dr. P. B. Jayasundera speaking at the event said that Sri Lanka aims to improve growth within the economy by regaining the growth momentum that was lost in 2015. The aim is to increase GDP per capita to US$10,000 within the next 5 years.

With the aim of capturing regional IT talent and demand, Sri Lanka is to establish five IT parks with tax-free status with construction set to begin during the end of July.

The IT parks aim to attract foreign firms to establish ventures within Sri Lanka.

Over the recent past, the external Government debt has come down by US$ 4 billion to US$ 32 billion. External debt of the banking sector has come down from US$ 7.6 billion to US$ 6 billion levels. In the next 30 days, Sri Lanka will service a US$ 1 billion bullet payment for an International Sovereign Bond.

Sri Lanka will have accelerated foreign direct investment and exposure when the ADB Forum takes place in Sri Lanka. The Government has a growth target of 6%.

Army Commander and Chief of Defence Staff and head of National Operation Centre for Prevention of the Covid-19, General Shavendra Silva too endorsed this at the Economic Forum.

“Despite the restrictions due to Covid-19 pandemic, Sri Lanka has been committed to continue the building of necessary infrastructure and service facilities for industrial and business advancement, which is a significant prerequisite for external and internal economic partnerships.”

“Sri Lanka’s major development projects and infrastructure projects were not delayed due to the pandemic and also the health and safety of the workers have never been compromised.”

“I think, we have so far been able to maintain the higher potential to engage in economic activities during this pandemic. This is where the local and external investors must give a significant thought. Amid the pandemic, we have emphasised on improving domestic products, achieving self-sufficiency in food and services, and increasing the exports and value-adding of goods and services.”

“The Government has encouraged and empowered the small, medium and major business counterparts with the financial, legal and technological assistance,” he added.

Sri Lanka investment forum

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, making the keynote address at the Sri Lanka Investment Forum 2021 said that the Government has ambitious plans to unleash a decade of transformational and rapid economic growth to double national output from its current level to 8,000 dollars GDP per capita by 2030.

Organic liquid fertiliser was sprayed over one and a half acres of paddy fields using the unmanned aerial device in Galle District recently. Fertiliser Production and Supply and Regulation of Chemical Fertiliser and Insecticide Use State Minister Mohan P. De Silva who initiated this project at the launch

He added that with climate change becoming an increasing threat to food security the world over, the Government seeks to combine this rich heritage with new technological advances to dramatically and sustainably enhance agricultural output. “The Government has taken a strong policy stance in support of healthy, organic agriculture.

Sri Lanka will be able to supply high quality agricultural produce to health conscious consumers in the region in the future. Many opportunities for investment will be created in this context in the fields of new technologies and farming practices.

He also told the forum that the Government is committed to reducing the use of fossil fuels and ensuring that clean, renewable sources of energy contribute 70% of our national power requirements by 2030. “We, therefore, invite investments into large scale solar and wind power projects that can sustainably augment our power supply and set the platform for further industrialisation and economic growth.”

Commenting on the Port City development he said that the Government’s vision is to make the Port City Colombo a key service hub for one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

The Parliament last month passed the Port City Economic Commission Bill with 149 votes in favor and 58 against.

The Port City bill officially declares 269 hectares of land reclaimed from the ocean and annexed to the city of Colombo as Sri Lanka’s first special economic zone (SEZ) for services-oriented industries.

China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd., a branch of CHEC undertaking the project, has said that the Bill provides a progressive framework to ensure ease of doing business, and will help catalyse foreign direct investments (FDIs) and export of services for the Asian country. The Port City project would create 200,000 jobs in the first five years, with the majority going to Sri Lankan nationals. Meanwhile, referring to the overall business and investment climate, the President said he is deeply committed to maintaining policy stability and consistency within a stable macroeconomic environment.

“Unnecessary bureaucratic red tape is being removed and procedures are being streamlined to ensure greater ease of doing business. Our legal and regulatory frameworks are being refined to ensure greater responsiveness, transparency, and security for investors.”

“With its world-class port infrastructure in Colombo and in Hambantota, the country is capable of providing services even to the largest container ships that traverse the busy Indian Ocean. The country is well positioned to be a transshipment and logistics hub for the region Hence, opportunities are available to make investments in this area.”

“Our unique geostrategic position, political stability, robust institutions and social infrastructure, educated and capable workforce, and high quality of life are some of Sri Lanka’s current strengths.

We will leverage these to set the platform for our growth target.” Sri Lanka has been a hub that connected the East and the West for centuries. “Hence we encourage business leaders from all nations to make full use of the unique strengths and many opportunities that the Port City affords by investing here,” President Rajapaksa said. The three-day forum was organised by the Board of Investment, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Colombo Stock Exchange. The event was live streamed around the world.