|Monday, 27 October 2003|
from Ananda Kannangara in Hambantota
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday declared that the Government was fully confident that the LTTE will never revert to war again.
He said this fruitful situation will help the Government initiate a larger number of development projects in the coming months to boost the country's economy.
The Premier made these remarks at a meeting held at Sippikulam in the Hambantota District. Deputy Minister Sajith Premadasa presided.
He said as there is no war, all the funds can now be directed for future development projects.
"Once the economy is on a strong footing the problem of unemployment too could be solved.
"We took over the government at a very crucial moment when the war had escalated and no positive result shown in the economy. However, during the first few months, we signed an agreement with the LTTE to stop the war and start discussions, the Premier said.
"Meanwhile, we also paid the debts that the previous government had taken and we have now been able to strengthen the economy.
"We were able to improve the economy from minus position up to a 5.8 per cent growth rate.
The Premier said that the government's sole intention is to increase the current economic growth to 9 per cent in the coming years.
He pointed out that the LTTE had violated the MoU in several instances and the government too is focusing special attention on minimising such violations in the future.
"However, we as a responsible government is happy that for the first time in 20 years, the LTTE has stopped violence and is ready to put forward a set of proposals to end the war." He said the Government too had already forwarded their proposals and in a few days all of us will have to discuss matters pertaining to the proposed 'Interim Administration Council System' for the North-East.
"If both the Government and the LTTE neglects the Interim Council system and do not go for discussions, then there will be a war again."
He said as a result not only the country's sound economic situation will suffer but also many more human lives and properties will be destroyed again.
The Premier also recalled to the gathering how temples countrywide conducted Bodhi poojas almost every day to invoke merits on dead soldiers. But, now all the killings have stopped owing to the ceasefire agreement.
Talking about the Governments future economic plans the Premier said that his objective is to establish many more industries with foreign collaboration to develop the IT sector. This will help our youth secure local and foreign jobs and also boost the tourist industry.
"We have never forgotten how former President J.R. Jayewardene introduced Free Trade Zones at Katunayake and Biyagama."
President R. Premadasa too expanded the industrial sector from the city to the rural areas to give jobs to rural youth.
The Premier said the paddy production has shown fruitful results.
He also said that the entire highway network will be developed in the coming year. Jobs will be provided in the construction sector. A special plan has been designed to develop the E-SriLanka concept with the objective of providing more jobs.
During his three-day visit to the Hambantota District, the Premier also visited Tissamaharama, Abmalantota, Angunukolapelessa and many other places.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday assured the fisher folk in the Kirinda village that measures have already been taken to develop the Hambantota Port.
He was touring the Kirinda fisher village, located in the Hambantota district on the invitation of Co-operative Minister A. R. M. Abdul Cader.
During his short stay in the village the Premier also discussed with villagers about various shortcomings faced by them.
He also visited the Hambantota port to inspect it and meet the fishing community.
On listening to various questions directed by the people, the Premier said that not only the construction work of the harbour but also several other important projects such as providing water for drinking and agricultural purposes.
He said these projects will be initiated under the proposed Southern Development Plan and also promised to set up more industries in the district to ease the unemployment problem.
Wickremesinghe also visited the Kirinda Muslim Jumma Mosque and met the Muslim community.
Thereafter the Premier paid a visit to the Kirinda Temple.
The Prime Minister also went to Ikkapallama farmer colony with Minister S. B. Dissanayake to look into the problems faced by the farmers.
Produced by Lake House