Living standards can be raised by encouraging local production significantly: Minister Amunugama

Saturday, 5 January 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Senior Minister for International Monetary Corporation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Dr. Sarath Amunugama stated that the people’s standard of living can be strengthened by increasing the productivity capacity of local industries and also by inducing the people to increase their savings. The Senior Minister stated this at a series of public meetings and functions held at Galagedera and Hataraliyadda.

Expressing his views further, the Senior Minister said, among other things, that if the people were to be bestowed with a reasonable standard of living, that country’s production capacity should be planned in a systematic manner.

A country that forgets the crops that grow well in a country; that forgets the commodities that can be produced successfully; forgets the small industries; and a country which ignores the value of rural industries; a country which pays little attention to the rural economy; a country which ignores the economic potentiality in endeavours to uplift the handloom industry, has no future.

The aims and efforts of the Government are to develop the small scale domestic industries, and thereby strengthen and improve the living standards of the people. The Government aims to produce whatever is feasible, locally and increase the incomes of the people.

When those objectives are achieved the people can be assured of being able to go on a correct path. Simultaneously, they must also be able to cut down on unnecessary expenditures, and they, should get into the important habit of frugal living.

The people must get used to the habit of thrifty lives and save even small amounts of money. In today’s context one notice that today’s “ills” are largely due to the unnecessary spending spree and also due to the neglect of frugal living habits. Today we are witnessing the sad results of all the above developments.

If we look at the past, we notice that the books and dresses used by the elder children are being used by the younger brothers and sisters. In that way simple living habits became the order of things in the past. But today it is not that way. The reason for that situation is that we have given up the simple life patterns of the past that we were used to for generations.

In the past our parents grew their requirements of vegetables. But today, even those people living in remote villages have been accustomed to buy most of their requirements such as jak, breadfruit and other vegetables. We should not discard these facts, contending that they are just ‘simple’ facts.

We must firmly resolve ourselves to ensure that local commodities are produced not only to meet the requirements of our market only but that they are also produced to capture the foreign markets, so that we can earn the valuable foreign exchange we so urgently need. Our development plans should reflect these aims and objectives.

Sri Lanka’s requirement of sugar is a good example to reflect on. We produce only around 50% of our sugar requirements. Consequently we spend billions to pay for the sugar imports. In this connection it is desirable to know that in this year’s Budget Government has granted some relief to the kithul jaggery producers.

If the relief granted to the coconut jaggery manufacturers turn out to be a success, the vast sums of money that we spend for importing sugar can be saved for the country. Immediately the increased income will go to the coconut jaggery producers. But in the long run the saving will also be a benefit to the country as a whole.

Invariably, in such a context the living standards of the jaggery manufacturers too will rise and their children too will be the beneficiaries of the steps taken by the Government. Our thinking should be geared to achieve the objectives of the import substitution policy.

Our thinking about milk foods are also the same as for sugar. We must encourage the production of milk in our country by embarking on modest ways which will increase the supply of milk in Sri Lanka. We must assist the farmers to embark on small scale dairies.

A successful dairy farming plan will not only increase the incomes of the dairy farmers, it will also lead to the commencement of an era which will build up a healthy nation in Sri Lanka. Dairy farming, incidentally, will also pave the way for the ancillary industries, which will increase the incomes of those engaged in such pursuits.

Public servants should be aware of the Government’s aims and objectives and they should give their support to implement the projects concerned. Sri Lanka is self-sufficient in regard to the country’s requirements of rice. We are now in a position to export rice and this became a sealift due to the Government’s agrarian policy. Now there is clearly a visible growth in our economy.

After three decades of warfare the socio-economic conditions of our country are undergoing a significant transformation. Super highways, airports and harbours, and tourist hotels are all blossoming as lucrative enterprises. Urban development is yet another area which on could see the rapid developments.

New avenues of employment and additional sources of income to the people are thing that should be evident to anyone who wishes to see the recent developments. In an environment like this we should not seek cheap popularity of any form, political or otherwise; politicians as well as public servants should dedicate themselves to the tasks assigned to them.

Every inch of uncultivated land in the country should be cultivated, enabling the farmers to increase their incomes. It is then only that there will be no food shortages in the country.

The avenues for employments and increasing the number of people who get job opportunities too will tend to increase them incomes. One of our greatest assets is the precious land that is available for further cultivation. Such land should be cultivated to obtain the optimum yields.

The Government has provided incentives and suitable facilities. The people should be induced to make use of such facilities so that production will be at an optimum level. The public servants have a responsibility to ensure that the Government’s efforts bear fruits. If they fail to do so, the salaries and wages they receive from public funds will be in the form of debts that they owe to the Government and the people.