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Government Gazette

A vote of confidence

Sri Lanka is on the threshold of lasting peace and an era of prosperity following the crushing defeat of LTTE terrorism three months ago. The three-decade conflict drastically affected the economy due to the heavy defence expenditure and the effect on tourism and investment. That tragic era has finally come to an end and the economy is now poised to grow at an unprecedented rate. The stock market is one of the best in the world at the moment and international investors of the calibre of Jim Rogers have recommended Sri Lanka as one of the hottest investment destinations.

There were many naysayers who 'predicted' that the Government would not receive any international assistance due to certain concerns of the international community. However, their gloomy predictions were shattered when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently approved a US$ 2.5 billion facility to Sri Lanka, with an initial tranche of over US$ 300 million. This was actually US$ 6 billion more than the US$ 1.9 billion initially negotiated by the Government and a massive vote of confidence in our economy and governance.

As the IMF and the Government had agreed, these monies will also be used for Northern rehabilitation and development, a priority in the light of the region's liberation from terrorism.

It has now been revealed that foreign reserves had risen from US $ 1.7 billion on July 24 this year to US $ 3.1 billion now. During the first three days of this week alone nearly US $ 900 million had been invested in Treasury Bills and Bonds, said Export Development and Investment Promotion Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris. Incidentally, this was three times the IMF's initial tranche.

There is no doubt that this trend would continue. Sri Lanka is on its way to become a Middle Income Country (MIC).

A senior World Bank official has echoed these views, saying that Sri Lanka is poised on the crest of two great waves of opportunity. The first wave can transform the nation from a low income country to Middle Income Country.

The second wave can transform the nation from a country in conflict to a country at peace.

According to the Minister, this influx of resources had come to the country after the defeat of terrorism and the arrest of LTTE international operator KP. As the Minister pointed out, it would create stability for economic and infrastructure development and the Government could provide more social welfare measures to the people through new enterprises and generating employment opportunities with the increased money circulation.

More investors are already flocking to the country as evidenced by the steady stream of agreements signed by the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka over the few weeks. These will not only add to funds to the economy but also generate employment. Most hotel rooms are fully booked and new hotel investments are also in the offing. More airlines have begun operating to Colombo, bringing more tourists. In fact, there is a substantial improvement in tourist arrival figures. The winter tourist season would be very successful.

The success of tourism and investment, two pivotal components of the economy, will be vital in the march towards prosperity. Moreover, there is every possibility of a rise in agricultural productivity with the Northern and Eastern regions realizing their agri potential again after 30 years. This will also make a very important contribution to the economy. Sri Lanka has already been billed in a recent survey as one of the happiest places to live in, within our region. Economic prosperity propelled by peace will necessarily lead to better times for the people.

With more money in their hands, there would no longer be a need for certain welfare measures. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed this sentiment at a recent event. Indeed, as more people emerge out of poverty and become economically self-reliant, there will be no need for extra monetary assistance.

However, this would not mean that the State would curtail all concessions and incentives offered to various segments of society. In today's globalized world, the economy is not all about money.

The 'knowledge economy' based on education is also important. Sri Lanka has been ranked 82 out of 140 countries on the Knowledge Economy Index (KEI). Thus Sri Lanka needs an education system that can address the requirements of the economy and improve the knowledge economy rankings. The economy has already received a boost after the end of hostilities. A multi-pronged approach is required to develop it further and take Sri Lanka on the path to become an Asian powerhouse.

Celebrating bi-centenary of Customs

The maritime silk route, which ran parallel to the ancient Silk Route from Persia to China, operated through the Sri Lanka’s historic Manthota port.

Full Story

Memoirs - VI: Ananda College years

Journalists of Ananda - an addendum

Sorry we missed out the names of several other giants in journalism that Ananda had produced in our series - the reason was that they were before our time. Yet they must be remembered and their mammoth contribution to the world of letters be recorded not only for posterity but also for the sake of the country’s literature.

Full Story

On My Watch

HRW sees floods as manna from heaven

Rain is a blessing not only for the drought stricken farmers in several states of India. It is an even bigger blessing for Human Rights Watch (HRW). Last week we discussed how Amnesty International made its latest attack on Sri Lanka with a call to unlock the gates of the IDP relief villages in Vavuniya,

Full Story

 

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