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SL lost $ 400 b due to near 30-year conflict: Kiriella


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Tuesday, 14 November 2017 00:10


The 30-year war against terrorism has led the Government to incur an average loss of nearly $ 400 billion, Higher Education and Highways Minister and Leader of the House of Parliament, Lakshman Kiriella, moving the motion of the third allotted day on the second reading debate of the Appropriation Bill 2018, told Parliament yesterday. 

“Having taken into consideration the amount of money the LTTE has spent, which is also similar, Sri Lanka has wasted $ 400 billion,” he said based on a research report prepared by Parliament.

However, several years after the war’s end, which was followed by the defeat of the Rajapaksa regime on 8 January 2015, Sri Lanka has changed its course towards obtaining much-wanted development and reconciliation. According to Minister Kiriella, during the last two years under the Unity Government’s leadership, Sri Lanka has increased its GDP from 11.5% in 2014 to 14.2% in 2016 along with an increase of state income by 41%. During the period in focus, poverty has also declined by 4.1%. 

“We were a country with a positive cash balance. It has been over 60 years since we got independence. Today, after several political parties have been at the helm, all we are left with is Rs. 7,000 billion worth of debt. All parties should be responsible for this grave issue. We failed to manage the ethnic issue and ultimately it became a 30-year war. We need to solve this ethnic issue at least now. Even though former President Rajapaksa finished the war he was unable to develop the economy,” he said.

Highlighting the proposals in Budget 2018 to address unemployment in Sri Lanka as well as economic development, the Minister stated that it will be based on knowledge. “We are planning to develop Hambantota with China, Trincomalee with the Indians and the Japanese. We are also looking at establishing an IT city in Kundasale providing an opportunity for the younger generation with a flair for technology and innovation. Not only that, Budget 2018 is complete in all aspects to include welfare, poverty alleviation, healthcare and development,” he added.

Joining the debate, Opposition lawmaker JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake stated that ethnic war was not the only reason for the setback but all political parties were responsible. “It has been eight years since the war ended and we are unable to set things right. At elections, we go for political changes and give different interpretations for the economy. This Government also follows the same route. Eight years ago on this day Lehman Brothers collapsed triggering the world economic crisis. World leaders accepted that what they followed was wrong. But still many nations, including us, follow the same path. There are 3,000 million below the poverty line out of the total global population of 7,000 million. In the United States poverty is 14.3%. Sometime ago Prime Minister Wickremesinghe accepted in March last year that there were 9 million Sri Lankan earning less than Rs. 300 per day,” he said questioning the statistics Minister Kiriella presented. Asking the Government to concentrate more on the economy rather than following international remedies for development, MP Rathnayake said: “If the white working poor in other parts of the world is increasing and their purchasing power is decreasing we need to uplift local entrepreneurs. 

According to a recent report by the UN’s trade and development body, developing countries must avoid a race to the bottom to supply cheap goods to the world’s richest economies. It has warned that the traditional base of export-led development which powered many countries which ran up to the financial crisis is no longer viable.

 They recommend developing country governments to focus on boosting domestic income for the poor and hence increase consumer demand rather than pinning their hopes on recovering export demand among wealthier neighbours.” (AH)

 


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