‘Hambantota mega economic zone to have 2,500 new industries’



By Lynn Ockersz

'The proposed mega economic zone in Hambantota will have 2,500 new industries. This will be in tune with Sri Lanka's initiative to be a notable industrialized country, Minister for Special Assignments Dr. Sarath Amunugama said.

Referring to a visit he had made to China recently with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Amunugama said that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, whom they had met, had been of the view that Sri Lanka should be an industrial country. Two thousand five hundred production units would be brought from China to Sri Lanka, under Sri Lanka's current development drive, the Chinese Prime Minister had told his visitors, following this statement with the observation that, 'We must question traditional approaches to growth,'

Minister Amunugama was speaking as chief guest at the launch of the Conference on Human Capital, Food Security and Economic Development in South Asia, held at the Galadari, Colombo, on January 11th and 12th. The conference was co-organized by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS), Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability (CDES) and the South Asia Research Network (SARN), Monash University.

Amunugama said, among other things, that Sri Lanka was, currently, 'One of the safest spots on earth.' Lots of interesting and positive changes were taking place in Colombo, for instance. One hundred and eighty hectares of land is being claimed from the sea for the 'Colombo Port City' project, which is being intended to transform into a financial hub in the region. He invited the delegates to do a stroll in the city to experience the wonderful, transformative changes taking place in the metropolis under the present administration. Amunugama added that years from now, if the conference delegates happen to visit Sri Lanka with their 'grand children', they could tell the latter that they (the delegates) were in Sri Lanka when the ground-breaking 'Port City' was beginning to take shape.

Cautioning the audience to vast changes that were taking place in the global economy that could adversely affect emerging economies, following a decline in growth and creeping protectionism in the US and parts of Europe, the minister asked whether the developing world in particular was 'conceptually ready' to manage these unsettling changes. He warned that many achievements of the Obama era may be up for review in the future, given the uncertainties in economic policy currently playing out with the emergence of Donald Trump as US President.

Accordingly, Amunugama called on the conference to 'look at research issues from a futuristic perpective'. Quoting US President Barrack Obama the minister said: 'The world must be ready for rapid transitions in economic systems.'

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