Vibrant policy, immense scope for investment – President Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info)
Saturday, 05 June 2010 01:34

“Those of you who are keen to explore, will find abundant opportunities for investment in Sri Lanka. The scope is immense: from infrastructure, to agri-business, to manufacturing and to a range of services. You will also find that our country offers a rare package of skills, capacity, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Our policy is vibrant, our package is enticing and exciting, and you would do well to join us in our forward march. I earnestly invite you to do so,” said President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the Business Forum organized jointly by the Indian and Sri Lankan Chambers of Commerce in Colombo today, to coincide with the IIFA Awards Weekend.

Among the highlights of the President’s address to a large gathering of leading investors from India and Sri Lanka were :

• The world business community is now slowly but surely, acknowledging and appreciating Sri Lanka’s major successes in the economic sphere, though not much reported in the media.

• The relationship between Sri Lanka and India has been anchored in a rich heritage and is irreversible… we are now adding new spice to our relations with India and the world, with new and varied business opportunities.

• We strongly believe that to bring permanent peace there must be development. As I have often said, “there is no peace without development, and no development without peace.”

• We faced the global economic crisis bravely, and with certainty; our currency did not fluctuate unduly, and absorbed the shock of the massive global capital flight… Not a single bank or regulated financial institutions collapsed during the crisis, due to quick and well planned interventions, which built confidence. We faced all these successfully, while fighting terrorism.

• What we have achieved in terms of rehabilitation of those misled youth, and the resettlement of the IDPs, is far superior to any such exercise anywhere in the world.

 

Here is the text of the Address by President Mahinda Rajapaksa :

I am pleased to welcome all of you to the Business Forum organized jointly by the Indian and Sri Lankan Chambers of Commerce to coincide with the IIFA Awards Weekend. Your presence conveys the interest and confidence you have in our country and economy, and I hope all of you will have fruitful discussions about new and exciting business opportunities, which would benefit both our countries.

My dear friends, you are aware of the victory we achieved over the forces of terror, just one year ago. It is well known today that the LTTE introduced suicide bombings, child soldiers, and remote controlled vehicle bombs, adding a new dimension to terrorism. It also brought advanced methods of financing terror and large scale misinformation campaigns to the modern world. Fortunately, our efforts to overcome this menace ended in a resounding success.

However, while our military success is globally well known, what may not be as well known to the world are the major economic successes that Sri Lanka has also recorded, over the past four years. Let me, therefore, briefly record some of these major successes which, perhaps, are worthy of reflection by the global business community, to which you belong.

From an economic growth angle, during the four years 2005 to 2008, Sri Lanka achieved growth rates of over 6 per cent each year. Inflation was brought down from over 22 per cent in 2008, to below 4 per cent by 2009.

Our infrastructure is being developed at a pace that we have never experienced before: construction of ports, airports, roads, power plants, water schemes, fishery harbours, railways and bridges are under way.

Our current level of unemployment, at around 5.7 per cent, is one of the lowest in the world. Our foreign reserves have doubled over the past year to very comfortable levels.

Our poverty levels have reduced rapidly over the past few years. We can, at present, assure availability of 24 hour electricity to all users, without any interruption; and we are on target to do so for the next 10 years as well. We are also committed to provide electricity to all living and working in our country, within the next 2 years.

Our per capita income was doubled to more than US dollars 2,000 during the past 5 years. Our plan for the next 5 years is to double it once again to US dollars 4,000, and we are well on track towards that goal.

We faced the global economic crisis bravely, and with certainty. During the crisis, our currency did not fluctuate unduly, and we were able to absorb the shock of the massive global capital flight, so that our economy did not suffer. Not a single one of our banks or regulated financial institutions collapsed during the crisis, as a result of our quick and well planned interventions, which built confidence. Let me also remind you that we faced and overcame the global food crisis. All these came one after another, but we faced all these successfully, while fighting terrorism.

My dear friends, these outstanding successes that I just mentioned may not have been given much publicity in the international media. But, the world business community is now slowly but surely, acknowledging and appreciating these successes. That is why, when we issued a US dollars 500 million sovereign bond last year, it was more than 13 times oversubscribed. That is why many investors are continuing to invest in our stock market, making it the best performing stock market in the world. That is why leading international organizations and media institutions have named Sri Lanka as the best place to visit.

Today, we extend our hand of friendship and opportunity to all nationalities and communities, while we are well on our way to bring about a true re-conciliation within our communities and extensive economic empowerment among our people. There is of course undue pressure still being exerted on Sri Lanka by some elements that supported the LTTE. You are well aware of those elements. We strongly believe that to bring permanent peace there must be development. As I have often said, “there is no peace without development, and no development without peace.”

The sincerity of our government has been in its delivery and not in its promises made. We are proud to say that our government has been focusing on providing meaningful sustenance to those youth who in their childhood and in the prime of youth had been conscripted by the LTTE, to fight a bloody war. They were subjected to psychological hardships without access to education, by the LTTE. Their rehabilitation requires support from everyone. What we have achieved in terms of rehabilitation of those misled youth, and the resettlement of the IDPs, is far superior to any such exercise anywhere in the world.

We are targeting economic development to reach every citizen of our country. In that regard, let me remind all of you that the new areas and sectors we have opened out since the end of the conflict, offer new opportunities, which, we are sure, local and foreign investors would find very attractive and interesting.

My dear friends, Sri Lanka`s links with India extends far into history. It ranges from the romance of Rama and Sita as told in the Ramayana, to the noble teachings of the Buddha, the Enlightened One. The relationship between Sri Lanka and India has been anchored in a rich heritage and is irreversible.

We have also had a common heritage in trade and business amongst our two countries, and with the world outside. While the treasures and silks of India attracted traders from Arabia and the West, those same traders were drawn to Sri Lanka, too. In that sense, what we are doing today is adding new spice to our relations with India and the world, with new and varied business opportunities.

My dear friends, those of you who are keen to explore, will find abundant opportunities for investment in Sri Lanka. The scope is immense: from infrastructure, to agri-business, to manufacturing and to a range of services. You will also find that our country offers a rare package of skills, capacity, and a willingness to learn and adapt. Our policy is vibrant, our package is enticing and exciting, and you would do well to join us in our forward march. I earnestly invite you to do so.

Let me now take this opportunity to thank IIFA for choosing Colombo as the venue for its colourful Awards ceremony and FICCI-IIFA Business Forum this year.

Finally, let me wish you a highly successful conference and express the hope that the FICCI-IIFA Forum would lead the way to a new understanding; new ventures and new bonds of friendship, in sustained business relationships between our two countries and peoples.

I wish you all a bright future.

May the Noble Triple Gem Bless You!

Thank you.