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Lanka records highest economic growth in 30 years

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has been able to record the highest economic growth rate in 30 years in 2006, the first year since the implementation of Mahinda Chinthana, while facing serious economic and political challenges.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday that the 7.4 per cent economic growth in 2006 was achieved as a result of proper planning and efficient implementation of such plans.

He said this remarkable achievement would make 2006 a landmark year in the history of the country as it could successfully face a host of daunting challenges during that period.

President Rajapaksa who deviated from the usual practice of accepting the Central Bank Annual Report from the Governor at the Ministry of Finance yesterday visited the Central Bank at the invitation of Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal. The President also launched the new website of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The President said that the country should maintain at least an eight per cent growth rate in the next five years and the Government’s 10 year plan would enable the country to achieve that target.

“The main challenge before this country today is to find a solution to the terrorist problem in the North and East which has been there for about 30 years. At the same time we have to face challenges such as increasing oil prices and natural disasters.”

He said the strategy of the Government last year had been to move ahead with development activities despite the threat of terrorism.

“The progress and the achievements of our actions towards defending the country is no secret. Likewise, the data in the Central Bank annual report reveals the country’s economic achievements,” the President said.

He said the higher economic growth rate should be complemented by reducing poverty levels.

“It is encouraging that the poverty level has reduced to about 20 per cent of the population. According to the latest figures the country’s per capita income has increased from US$ 1,197 in 2005 to US$ 1,355 in 2006,” President Rajapaksa said.

He said while shouldering the burden of military expenses the Government has implemented several development projects in the fields of power generation, road development, port and airport development.

“By implementing these projects we have laid the foundation for sustainable economic growth which would not be limited to only one area of the country. Our plans are to extend the benefits of economic growth to all the areas of the country while eliminating economic disparities among the regions.

Maga Neguma, Gama Neguma which includes 4,000 villages, the 300 factories programme and Moragahakanda are among the key projects which can achieve this goal,” he said.

The President said he set up the National Economic Council early this year to discuss and solve main economic issues faced by the country.

“This council meets every two weeks and we have already held eight sessions. We have taken effective measures to control inflation though this council. We expect the results of these measures would be evident within the next two months,” the President said.

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