Equitable distribution of economic benefit to remote regions a hallmark of govt. Policy - GL

In the context of a global economic crisis and a financial meltdown, Sri Lanka had been able to defy all odds and maintain an annual economic growth rate of around 8%, thanks to the far-sighted economic plan that has been implemented, with a special emphasis on equal distribution of economic resources to all parts of the country, said Minister of External Affairs Professor G. L. Peries.

The Minister made these observations, addressing the Hambantota District SLFP Professionals, as part of a series of seminars organized throughout the country to explain the role of professionals, both in the upcoming local government elections, and in the broader development programme.

He said that the military victory over the LTTE, paving the way to a lasting peace, along with the strong political stability attained, as indicated by the overwhelming electoral victories during the last two years, had contributed to the economic growth of the country.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Parliamentarians Namal Rajapaksa and Roshan Ranasinghe as well as a number of professionals from the area addressed the gathering held at Ambalantota.

Prof. Peiris said: "It is the role of the professionals of the country to create a strong public opinion to rally behind this government for this cause. Most of you who are present today are teachers. Teachers are in a privileged position when it comes to building a strong public opinion as they can reach the broader masses. No one else is better equipped in this task than the teachers who shoulder the responsibility of guiding our younger generations."

"Let us try to understand what we mean by the strong public opinion that we expect you to build. The President was able to defeat the LTTE, to the surprise of the whole world, who had hitherto deemed to be invincible by the military experts throughout the world. Even after this victory, there are many challenges that lie ahead of us. First and foremost is the challenge of safeguarding this hard-fought victory. Former supporters and sympathisers of the LTTE are working from distant lands, in order to pull down the country’s economy. They are conspiring to prevent Sri Lankan products from reaching Western markets, to stop the potential tourists who would like to visit our country, and to take our political leadership to an international war crimes tribunal. The president has appointed the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in order to find the root causes of the conflict in a manner that suits our culture. In addition, a committee comprising of Secretaries from seven prominent ministries has been established to implement the recommendations of the Commission. In this context, it should be abundantly clear that there is no scope for foreign intervention or mediation. The responsibility of the professionals should thus be to help build a strong public opinion in order to safeguard the victory achieved. "

Referring to a recent experience, Professor Peiris recalled how he had handed over a personal letter, from the Sri Lankan President, to the Emir of Qatar and stated how the largest natural gas producer in the world, with the economic situation prevailing in the country, evident in their readiness to make large scale investments in our country. The Minister reiterated that the underlying force behind all these are the lasting peace and the political stability the country has achieved.

Speaking further, the Minister said that prior to this meeting, several more had been held in the districts of Anuradhapura, Kegalle, Kurunagala and Chilaw, with the specific aim of creating a sustainable committee representing all professions. The scope of this committee will not be limited to the election, but the ideas of these professionals thus gathered would be given prominence in policymaking decisions of the government, he said.

Parliamentarian Mr. Namal Rajapaksa:

We are passing the period of history where Hambantota is transforming into the next economic centre of Sri Lanka. After dividing the Hambantota district into three developmental zones, the development work for the first of these, the new city zone, is already underway. Largest industrial city will be created here, centred on the port of Hambantota. We are hoping to initiate an industrial city with thriving industries like automobile manufacturing, factories exporting sugar and iron production. Second industrial zone will be centred on the airport.

Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa, Speaker of the Parliament:

Recently, I presided at a conference involving speakers of Parliaments of nine countries as well as members of parliaments from the Commonwealth Association of Members of Parliament. Immediately after that, they travelled to areas such as Dambulla and Kandy. They all recognised the development and the cleanliness the country has attained after establishing a lasting peace. Acknowledging the development achieved under the guidance of "Mahinda Chinthana", they all obtained a copy of "Mahinda Chinthana" as an inspiration to their respective countries.

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