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Export sector plays major role in development - Export Development Minister

Minister of Export Development and International Trade Prof. G.L. Peiris said according to the latest Central Bank figures the per capita income of Sri Lankans has increased to US $ 1,650. He also said that the Government's intention is to distribute this increased income equitably among the citizens in the country.

He was addressing a gathering after inspecting a cinnamon processing factory at Kosgoda belonging to Dassanayake Walauwa Plantations Ltd. that has been internationally accredited for implementing Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) with the financial assistance extended by the Export Development Board.

While mentioning that every Sri Lankan could be happy with what was mentioned in the Central Bank Report, Prof. Peiris said that the export sector played a major role in the country's development.

It expanded at a rate of approximately 15 per cent during 2007 which resulted in a flow of a large amount of foreign exchange into the country. Prof. Peiris also highlighted the need to distribute such income equitably throughout the country and various social segments of society rather than allowing it to be channelled into Colombo and the surrounding areas only.

The Minister also said it was of important to identify the industries that Sri Lanka could be competitive in, if it is to bring about a rejuvenation in our economy. In deciding on such industries the preferable standard applied should be those that would generate an income US$ 1 billion or above and as such the spice industry has been identified for further development.

"Sri Lanka supplies 90 per cent of world's cinnamon production and most of it could be considered as of premium quality. This production is generally exported to countries such as Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil and specially to Mexico.

The challenge faced by Sri Lanka in this regard is the achievement of a unique position in the international market for our cinnamon on account of the addition of value through the infusion of new technology and the general modernisation of the industry. He said he believed the project implemented through the factory at Kosgoda would be a beacon in the right direction," Minister Peiris said.

He said the major impediment faced by Sri Lanka in her quest to achieve prominence in the sphere of spice is the lack of a modernised processing structure in the country.

Most people still depend on age-old traditional methods to process cinnamon but few realise that through such methods, the progress in the industry could be extremely limited. As such it was imperative that new technology be introduced into this sector and through such efforts only, a remarkable transformation in the lifestyles of the rural people involved in this industry could be achieved.

He also said that the Export Development Board has taken steps to promote the modernisation of the cinnamon industry not only in in the Kosgoda area but in Elpitiya and Karandeniya as well. As Sri Lanka does not depend any longer on foreign aid to steer its economy, its main focus has been the facilitation of the entry of its products into international markets.

Lal Navanandana Silva, SLFP Organiser for Balapitiya, Vijith de Zoysa Jayatilleke, Managing Director, Dassanayake Walauwa Plantations Ltd., Ms. Sujatha Weerakoon, Director General, Export Development Board, Prasad Daluwatte, Provincial Manager EDB, D.A. Perera, President, Spice Society and Lionel Guneratne, Deputy Director, Export Agriculture Department also spoke.

Minister of Agricultural Development Hamakumara Nanayakkara was also present.

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